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TWC Interacts With 'Degrassi’

Time Warner Cable has leveraged its interactive service with reality-show buffs and stand-up comedy fans. Now, it’s turning its attention to teenage 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 Sept. 29 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 Cable senior vice president of on-demand product management Bob Benya said the questions, displayed on the lower portion of the screen, will be based on the characters and story lines.

To respond, participating consumers can press A, B, or C on their remote controls. The poll results will then air before the end of the half-hour episode. “You get quick, instant gratification while participating,” Benya said.

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

The polling initiative marks Time Warner’s first deployment of Navic Networks Inc.’s interactive service for a scripted series.

The operator has conducted polling during Bravo’s Top Chef and NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and on its New York 1 News 24-hour local news channel.

Benya, while stopping short of an actual prediction, believes Degrassi could draw more than the 25% of users that interacted with Bravo’s Top Chef.

“Given how younger folks tend to interact more with content, it’s very conceivable that the participation rates are going to be higher,” he said.

The N senior vice president of affiliate marketing Juliette Morris hopes that the effort will drive digital acquisition.

“We also know what Degrassi’s audience is and what they’re looking for, so to be able to provide the loyal and new fans of Degrassi the ability to engage and interact with the content gives us a chance to super-serve them,” Morris said.

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

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.