CBC boosting mobile opps for NHL & fall sked

Fans can choose the three best players in CBC's hockey playoffs, via mobile or online, and the two platforms will keep coming together.

A mobile/online component to CBC’s NHL playoffs will enable hockey fans to pick the stars of every game, starting on April 11 – and the pubcaster’s planning to carry its sponsor-friendly mobile tie-in trend through the fall season and beyond. Fresh from signing its six-year contract with the NHL – and effectively saving its ratings powerhouse Hockey Night in Canada – CBC marketing execs spent last week finalizing the details of the mobile/online playoff participation strategy with Toronto-based MyThum Interactive.

MyThum Interactive president Michael Carter tells MiC the move is ‘the biggest commitment that the CBC has made to mobile as an integrated element of broadcast since the day we started this company five years ago. With their viewership and the popularity of hockey, this is pretty exciting.’ Carter should know, as current MyThum Interactive clients are CanWest (Global), CTVglobemedia (CTV, MTV) and CHUM (MuchMusic, Citytv, PunchMuch, Razer), Teletoon, Rogers Media (Sportsnet), and MusiquePlus.

CBC customer marketing manager Katlin Robinson tells MiC that SMS contest promos have been proposed for three of the pubcaster’s fall schedule shows. Robinson says audience reaction to online participation is far greater than SMS, but the text message will be a key promotional strategy in CBC’s future. She confirmed a mobile strategy will be continued for the follow-up to Test the Nation this fall. While she would not reveal mobile participation numbers for last month’s Test the Nation (which got 1.5 million viewers), she did tell MiC that the online ‘alternate method of entry’ component will likely be included in text messaging initiatives.

Test the Nation‘s SMS contest component was promoted via a drive-to-contest spot for two weeks prior to the March 18 broadcast, giving additional exposure to its exclusive sponsor, Pepsi-QTG’s Quaker Oats brand. During the broadcast, 30-second interstitials challenged viewers to test their heart health smarts for a $6,000 Heart Healthy Makeover, courtesy of Quaker Oats. It was a simple plan – a trivia question appears during the broadcast and the viewer texts in the answer – and a different format than the voting mechanic that drove the SMS/online participation component for last year’s Kraft Hockeyville.

‘It’s definitely becoming more common in the marketplace,’ says Robinson. ‘It’s really just a matter of looking at who the show is targeted to and whether or not they’re a demographic that makes sense for SMS. Intuitively, the demo is obviously younger. With Test the Nation, we knew there would be family viewing, and we knew there would be young people watching with their parents, and they’re the huge driver of this kind of technology. Even if it was the moms who were entering the contest, it would be younger people who are encouraging the moms to participate.’

Last month’s Test the Nation broadcast raked in 1.5 million viewers (or 724,000 adults 25-54) in a time slot also occupied by CTV’s Law & Order: CI and Amazing Race. No surprise, really, when you consider the publicity that naturally goes with the program. Average people from across the country made it onto the show’s teams, netting community newspaper coverage for the local faces involved across Canada. SMS participation numbers weren’t available, but about 116,000 people took part via the online alternative. All of those people were also eligible to win a $5,000 Travel voucher from Sunquest. The network will air the follow-up Test the Nation: Watch Your Language this fall, challenging participants and viewers to spot common mistakes in spelling and grammar.