18-to-34 male demo in crosshairs

NEW YORK — Wrestling fans of TBS’ weekly Wednesday night “WCW Thunder” are going to get lots of extra information, be able to play games and communicate with other aficionados in real time if they have their TV set and an Internet-connected computer in the same room.

Beginning Aug. 2, TBS will create iWatch Wednesday, setting up the first interactive mix of TV series and Web sites for an entire block of regularly scheduled narrative programs.

Leaning forward

“We can draw on a built-in community of males 18 to 34 who love wrestling and are comfortable with the technology — I call them the lean-forward viewers,” says Dennis Quinn, president of TBS. The network’s night of enhanced TV viewing will encompass the full three hours of primetime programming on TBS: the one-hour “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” magazine series at 8, and the two-hour “WCW Thunder” at 9.

Employing Hyper TV with Livewire as its technology enabler, TBS will offer online games throughout the three hours that will allow viewers to accumulate points which can eventually be redeemed for prizes. In addition to a steady stream of information and games, the convergence gimmicks will include opinion polls.

The TV screen will alert viewers to the simultaneous online features through a bug in the corner of the screen.

Branching out

If the Wednesday experiment catches fire, Quinn says TBS plans to expand the strategy to primetime movie showcases like the Saturday-night “Dinner and a Movie” and to some of the sports programming TBS schedules regularly, such as Atlanta Braves games and Nascar races.

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