App-etite: Degrassi goes virtual

The 'jewel in MuchMusic's crown' has created a choose your own adventure app to promote season 11 of the teen drama. 

Bringing the angst of high school life into the mobile gaming world, Bell Media-owned channel MuchMusic, along with XMG studio and Epitome Pictures announced the July launch of the Degrassi app.

The mobile game, set to coincide with the launch of Season 11 of Degrassi this summer, will be promoted through MuchMusic’s TV and online platforms.

The season will also be promoted through a external media campaign, created and executed by CTV’s in-house agency, which includes transit, digital and radio.

The channel is open to customized sponsorship opportunities, where the interactive mobile app could be tailored to include a brand’s products in the storyline or within the mini-games, Chris Unwin, senior strategist, Much MTV tells MiC.

What is involved in the Degrassi app and why did you develop it?

We consider [Degrassi] to be the jewel in [MuchMusic's] crown. There is really a rabid community of fans around the show – around 2.7 million fans globally and they are all interested in Degrassi and the universe of the characters.

We wanted to develop a mobile app and we wanted it to be some sort of game. We had noticed that there had been a few different apps that were story-based games on mobile devices.

This is basically episode-based – a ‘choose your own conversation’ game. You create an avatar and you become a student at Degrassi. It’s cool for all the Degrassi fans who have been watching the show to see all their favourite characters illustrated in this world. They are confronted with characters and conversations and you basically choose how you are going to respond to the different characters. There are mini-games built into each episode and how you perform ties into your Degrassi points.

Why did you decide to launch this on the global market?

So many times in Canadian media we focus on our own market, but now the digital world gives us the opportunity to look beyond our border. It’s really just a matter of us being able to, from a distribution standpoint, upload into the various app stores across platforms and immediately access a global market.

We have a sort of certainty, a proof of market that the world of social media now provides, by knowing that we have 2.7 million Facebook fans for Degrassi globally. We don’t need to blindly speculate what the potential opportunity can be.

Who is the app targeted to?

There are two ways of looking at this. So, Degrassi fans of course, and teens [in general]. It is going to be a compelling story to anyone in the teen demo. It is really grounded in the decisions that are required of us when we are in high school, finding our own identity while appeasing those around us.

What else makes this app unique and attractive to that audience?

Specific to the Canadian market, the one thing I’m really excited about is how we are going to market this product on our platforms. Much in the same way that a TV station would promote a TV show and have episodic spots that would promote ‘This week on Degrassi…’ we are going to start to promote this mobile interactive game in the same manner. So, teasing the plot lines.

How do you see the Degrassi app evolving?

The long-term potential is in the realm of social currency around the app. The more you invest in the game, the more you are able to experience and unlock.

One other piece is how we are going to work the community into the app. So, some of the top players in the game could be featured – it will be about how we involve super-fans into the community of the app.

Another pie in the sky down the line is we could have an episode based on the most popular choice made in a conversation within the game. It’s a crazy example, but [it's the] notion of how transmedia storytelling on mobile can potentially engage or impact broadcast.