Digital customers can answer questions with remote

Viewers eager to cheer or curse the performers on NBC’s competitive reality show “Last Comic Standing” will have an outlet for their opinions thanks to a deal between NBC and Time Warner Cable.

Touting the strategy as an interactive broadcast-primetime first, NBC said that starting with the special two-hour summer-season premiere of “Comic” next Tuesday at 8, TW’s digital customers will be able to vent their views by touching their remote to answer multiple-choice questions that pop up on the screen throughout the telecast.

Through technology developed by Navic Networks, Time Warner will compile the results and flash them onscreen in each individual market. TW systems in 10 markets will participate, including New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, and, instead of a nationwide poll, the results will be funneled to each market.

Since the show is on tape, viewer opinions will have no influence on who wins or who loses each week. But people will be able to find out if their views match up with those of other cable subscribers in their area.

Although the “Comic” deal is a broadcast-TV first, Time Warner is using interactive polling for “Top Chef,” a weekly cable series on NBC sister network Bravo. Bravo says that 30% of the digital TW viewers to “Chef” are participating in the polls, with that figure expected to go higher for tonight’s season finale.

The executives who engineered the deal are Jean-Briac Perrette, senior VP and chief financial officer of NBC U Cable, and Joan Gillman, veep of interactive TV at TW Cable.

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