Time Warner Takes Degrassi Interactive

Time Warner Cable has leveraged its interactive service with reality-show buffs and standup-comedy fans. Now, it’s turning its attention to teen-age girls.

A number of Time Warner and Bright House Networks systems are enabling viewers to interact on-screen with episodes of The N’s high-school drama, Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Scheduled to launch last Friday with the series’ sixth-season debut, the Degrassi Interactive Program integrates two questions within each of seven episodes for viewers to answer via remote control.

Time Warner senior vice president of on-demand product management Bob Benya said the questions -- displayed on the lower-right-hand corner of the screen -- will be based on the characters and story lines. Consumers participating can press A, B, or C to respond. The poll results will then air before the end of the half-hour episode. “You get quick, instant gratification while participating,” he added.

The interactive offering is available to Time Warner subscribers in Albany, Binghamton, New York, Syracuse, and Rochester, N.Y.; Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro and Wilmington, N.C.; Cincinnati; and Milwaukee, as well as to Bright House customers in Orlando and Tampa Bay, Fla.

The initiative marks the first time that Time Warner has deployed Navic Networks' interactive service for a scripted series. The operator has conducted polling with Bravo’s Top Chef, NBC’s Last Comic Standing and its New York 1 News 24-hour local-news channel.

Time Warner and The N will promote the service through cross-channel avails, radio spots, online demos on the operator’s Road Runner broadband service, on-hold messages and e-mail blasts.

For more on the Degrassi Interactive Program, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page eight of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.