Superheroes and superfans: A conversation with Marvel Entertainment and Berlanti Productions

19 July, 2019

“I think all over if your show does not have a fan base, it will not be a show for very long.”– Sarah Schechter, President and Executive Producer, Berlanti Productions

Sarah Schechter, Berlanti Productions (Photo credit: Araya Doheny-Diaz)

Superheroes and their superfans were the stars of the show at a recent panel discussion between Marvel Entertainment, Berlanti Productions, and Parrot Analytics on Wednesday, July 17th in Los Angeles.

Moderated by entertainment journalist Elizabeth Guider, the panel featured Marvel Entertainment’s SVP of Original Programming and Production, Karim Zreik, Berlanti Production’s President and Executive Producer, Sarah Schechter, and Parrot Analytics’ Global Head of Insights, Karina Dixon.

Listen to the full conversation here or read on for the top takeaways.

Elizabeth Guider, Karim Zreik, Sarah Schechter, Karina Dixon (Photo credit: Araya Doheny-Diaz)

The lively conversation began with a focus on the unique qualities of the fanbases that power demand for the superhero series produced by both Marvel Entertainment and Berlanti Productions. According to our latest Global SVOD Report for Q1 2019, superhero series are the most in-demand sub-genre in the US for Q1’19.

Source: Parrot Analytics Global SVOD Report, 2019.


While Marvel Entertainment is a notoriously covert organization, Zreik was forthcoming about the creative process behind some of the world’s most recognizable and complex characters.

Karim Zreik, SVP of Original Programming and Production, Marvel Entertainment, on considering the unique and diverse profiles of fans to create content that appeals to different audiences:

“We’re not just appealing to young men, we’re appealing to women, older women, older men, like our shows. And each show is very specific. You know, women took to Jessica Jones, men took to Daredevil, young men took to Iron Fist, because of the age of the lead character. So we chalk that up and when you know, you go wow, your content can appeal to different audiences. And that’s how we develop our material.”

Karina Dixon, Karim Zreik, Sarah Schechter (Photo credit: Araya Doheny-Diaz)

Sarah Schechter shared her thoughts on the motivation behind creating successful series such as Arrow, The Flash, You, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina:

“It’s about the storytellers and the stories they want to tell. And that is always what excites us. It is never, for us at least, it’s never about just, oh, this is a popular book, we should do it. You know, I’ve never found that to be successful. There has to be a creative passion from the very beginning.”


Karina Dixon provided insights on using existing IP as a basis for creating content that builds on existing demand:

“There’s IP and that creates nostalgia. It just activates people’s emotions and it gets them excited. At the point of it being announced, people are researching, they want to learn more. They’re already engaging, which is really cool. Because then we can look at that data before the show’s even released, and see how much people are engaging with it and see in which markets they’re engaging. And then that’s what we share with our partners. What we’re trying to do is just showcase the landscape of where the IP is being demanded to help them sell in that story.”

Karina Dixon (Photo credit: Araya Doheny-Diaz)

The conversation flowed into a discussion regarding the desire for balance in using TV data analytics alongside the creative process. Karina proffered a balanced approach: “We’re never trying to inform the creative, we leave that to the experts.”

Following the discussion, we unveiled our latest TV series demand visualization based on the cumulative total cross-platform demand that is expressed for the top superhero titles globally. The daily per capita global demand average has been added on a cumulative basis beginning 1st January 2019 up to and including 13th July 2019.

Source: Parrot Analytics (2019)

Find more data visualizations on our YouTube channel. 

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