How Degrassi’s new chat app helps build show’s brand online

Degrassi Chat app

Epitome Pictures, the production company behind the Degrassi franchise, has launched a new companion app for the wildly popular television series, one that it says is the “remote” that links all its online platforms and offerings together.

The app, Degrassi Chat, which was launched in August and is available for free on iTunes, specifically facilitates fan interactions with Degrassi cast and crew, chats with fellow fans, provides episode check-ins, and allows for customizations of pictures with messages and autographs.

Epitome Pictures CEO and show exec producer, Stephen Stohn, explained in a statement “with Degrassi Chat, fans can create high-quality autographed photos of the cast, even while watching the show.”

The app is integrated with various social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It is also integrated into the MuchCloser viewer loyalty program offered by its domestic broadcaster MuchMusic. The program awards points for engaging with MuchMusic content across various platforms, and includes prizes and exclusive event access for users.

For example, “users receive points within the app for checking-in, sharing, and are able to view their MuchCloser Dashboard when they rotate their screen’s landscape,” Abby Ho, Epitome’s director of digital and social media, told Playback.

“We wanted to make the Chat App the remote for all Degrassi online and a large part of that, was connecting it to the loyalty program,” she added.

“We see it as a very valuable application that drives interaction around the ‘live’ broadcast, and engagement around the show between episodes. This engagement is very valuable to our broadcasters and our loyal fans. We see our fan engagement as a way for us to continue the conversation and keep the themes around the show alive between broadcast.”

Noting that the program has a 33-year-longevity, she adds “it is community that makes the Degrassi brand resonate, and we continue to build engagement on new platforms. It is this continued conversation and authentic transparency we have with all our online properties that gives our audience various touch points to our brand.”

In November it had about 1,000 daily users, Ho said.

Degrassi Chat was developed for Epitome Pictures by Ottawa mobile app developer Bitheads using what’s known as an application programming interface (API) built by Mobovivo, a second-screen video distribution company based in Alberta.

The API was made using Mobovivo’s StayTuned platform, which Mobovivo said in a statement allows for easier integration with TV companion apps.

“TV audiences are using their smartphones and tablets while watching TV. That’s a business reality for producers,” says Mobovivo founder and CEO, Trevor Doerksen.

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