Riding the ratings
Riding the ratingsDeadwood benefits from HBO drama on the town's legendary past HBO's new original series Deadwood has done more than just boost the cable network's ratings-it has helped revive a town.
The series loosely bases its drama on the storied past of the real-life Deadwood, S.D., with legendary characters like Wild Bill Hickock (played by Keith Carradine) and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) roaming the streets in the 19th century gambling town. Today's Deadwood is still a gambling town (the activity having been re-legalized in 1989), though without the gun duels at sunset.
The show has done wonders for Deadwood's tourism, and the 40-something casinos that operate there today, said George Milos, executive director of the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce.
"Our Web site hits and visits (with the Chamber) are up 360 percent. Brochure requests are up 320 percent. The interest alone is phenomenal," Milos said. "I've done radio interviews everywhere from Arkansas to New York City. We've had articles in the New York Times and USA Today. It's creating an all new awareness of this community."
Before the show began airing, Milos said that other than working through the state's tourism department, marketing for Deadwood "was almost nonexistent."
But now, thanks to the revived interest in the town and the tourism that is starting to generate, Deadwood and its casinos can now push into bigger markets, hoping to attract new visitors.
HBO has already chosen to renew Deadwood for another season, and Milos said the city will ride the marketing wave for all it's worth.
"We average about 1.2 million visitors per year. I see us going over the 2 million mark easily this year," he said. "It's just one more thing we have going for us."