Discovery inks Wink to link fall viewers

Partnership enables audience to delve deeper into topics, McHale sez

Wink Communications has inked a multiyear deal with Discovery Communications-owned Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel to provide the cablers’ shows with interactive programming options as e-mail and e-commerce.

Discovery Channel and TLC viewers, by getting their hands on a Wink-enabled cable box, can also look up additional program content or advertising-related information through small Wink text boxes and graphics at the bottom of their TV screens. Interactive features will begin with the fall lineup.

The Discovery-Wink partnership is an obvious one because “working with Wink to add enhanced elements to our programming enables our audience to delve deeper into the topics of interest to them,” said Discovery Communications prexy and chief operating officer Judith McHale.

Quizzes, polls, merchandise

For example, “(Wink) can deliver additional facts about show topics, offer quizzes and polls to viewers at home … and will enable viewers to receive or purchase additional program-related materials,” said Wink CEO and prexy Maggie Wilderotter.

Currently, 40,000 households can access Wink-enhanced shows. Backed by a $30 million investment by Microsoft and recently inked deals with all Big Four nets, 21 cable networks and satellite broadcaster DirecTV, Wink is expecting to see up to 200,000 Wink-formatted sets in homes by year’s end.

Pumped-up shows already on the air include ABC’s “The View” and CNN’s “The Larry King Show” and “Headline News.”

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