Everything about Arctic Air, eh?

Arctic Air’s transmedia finale explained


When I read the media release about Arctic Air’s transmedia extravaganza finale, I had two thoughts:

  1. This media release needs to calm itself down a whole lot. (“Leading the charge in social television history and second screen experiences in North America, ARCTIC AIR has developed a transmedia storytelling event…”)
  2. Why is this THAT much more special than “there’s additional web content”?

After sitting on it for a day I decided to post anyway and let the reader decide how exciting they found this, whatever this was. And of course I made a snarky twitter comment expressing the above sentiments in 140 characters. One of CBC’s highly responsive (no sarcasm there) interactive team responded and offered to get my questions answered. So here is CBC’s Nick Mcanulty explaining the concept in slightly less hyperbolic and jargony language than that media release:

So first of all, in one sentence and without using the word transmedia, can you explain what’s unique about the Arctic Air finale?

What’s unique about the finale is that it’s 100% focused on the main story, continuing scenes and revealing more about the plot and characters at each commercial break.

What kind of content are we talking about? Video? Written? Images?

The Arctic Air finale will unfold over multiple screens with a parallel part of the story from another characters perspective taking place online. The majority of the elements are video with interactive components such as audio and branching storytelling. These segments were written as part of the finale script and were produced by the Arctic Air production as part of the episode. There will also be a web version that airs after the broadcast framed as a police interrogation that jumps into these segments as well as an epilogue to the episode that reveals and teases more for season 3.

Can you explain the ideal user experience as they watch the show and interact with this content? As in, if I choose to follow along on my iPad, what will I be doing and what will it add to my viewing of the show?

Audience members will watch the broadcast of the episode with their device (iPad, phone, laptop). Right before each commercial break, they will be prompted to go to the Arctic Air site where the scene that just ended in the broadcast will unlock and continue online. After the broadcast, viewers can go and experience a complete version that takes place after the episode that has entry points into these scenes and contains new story elements and a conclusion to the episode that wasn’t seen in the broadcast.

How do you balance having enough in the broadcast for the majority of the audience but having the second screen content compelling enough for that group of viewers?

The balance comes from working with the story department from the beginning. Instead of shoehorning something into the finale, the story team developed storyline that allowed for an exciting story to take place from multiple perspectives. Those just watching the episode will still get a satisfying experience as we’re not aiming to take anything away from the broadcast, but those that go through the online component will get a lot more insight, story and reveals.

What is the expectation — higher ratings for the broadcast, or simply more engaged with it?

Higher ratings are always good for everyone but for this we really want to offer a richer viewing experience that’s rewarding the viewer for exploring past just the broadcast.

Given the “Leading the charge in social television history and second screen experiences in North America,” how does this compare to shows doing live Q&As on social media while an episode airs, or audience-responsive episodes like Hawaii 5-0’s choose your own ending, or the X-Factor and Glee second screen experiences? What makes it so leading-edge?

The difference between this and other second screen experiences is that this is 100% story related, giving an overall 60 minute episode instead of the standard broadcast 45. Things like the Hawaii 5-0 experiment deal with one off characters with no consequence to the series (situations dealing with characters whom we’ve never seen before or again) where this focuses on characters we’ve been following for 2 seasons with real consequences. There are no Q&A’s, no stats, no info on the cast – the experience is all story from the episode.

Are you daunted by research that’s showing audiences aren’t engaging with show-specific content like this? Is it still too early to tell how audiences will adapt or is this simply niche marketing for those who do enjoy it?

It’s too early to tell – there are always going to be super fans who want to get every piece of content for a show and there will always be audience members who want nothing more than to watch the show in a completely passive manner. But there is a lot of room to explore between the two so we’re really aiming to give something truly rewarding to the audience to make it worth their time. Our aim is to expand how we tell a story this is a test for us that we’d like to explore further in the future.


Wednesday: Mr. D, Ron James, Arctic Air, Food Factory, Rogue


Mr. D, CBC – “Strip Club”
Gerry suspects that Dwyer is moonlighting as a stripper and decides to find out. Lisa makes a big deal of Secretary’s Day. Gerry tries to get in on the staff lottery pool.

The Ron James Show, CBC – “Science”
Ron puts the world of SCIENCE under the microscope. Special Guests: Alanna Harkin, Marty Adams, Jonas Chernick, Sugith Varughese.

Arctic Air, CBC – “Fool Me Once”
While a winter storm hammers Yellowknife, a couples’ weekend in Calgary goes sideways after the arrival of Blake’s sister and Krista’s discovery of Bobby and Petra’s kiss.

Food Factory, Food Network Canada – season premiere
In the season premiere, viewers are treated to a step-by-step look at how sweet and crispy waffles, tangy, crunchy Doritos nachos, dreamy dark chocolate milk, and an extravagantly cheesy Indian dessert get from the production line to people’s plates.

Rogue, Movie Central/The Movie Network – “Cathy’s Song”
Jimmy deals with fallout from the firebombing. Grace investigates Jimmy’s crew with Mitch’s help. Max negotiates with the Chinese. Alec tries to get back in Jimmy’s good graces.


Arctic Air finale to be extended online

From a media release:


  • For the first time in North America, witness the ARCTIC AIR story continue online in tandem with the live broadcast on CBC-TV, Wednesday, April 17 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT)

For the first time in North America, the ARCTIC AIR story is extended online in tandem with the live broadcast on CBC-TV, Wednesday, April 17 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT). Leading the charge in social television history and second screen experiences in North America, ARCTIC AIR has developed a transmedia storytelling event for a thrilling season finale. This interactive episode features a gripping plotline that takes place in parallel to the events happening on the TV screen, providing access to an additional online perspective to complete the story.

In this episode, Bobby and Loreen find out that Caitlin has been taken hostage, and her kidnappers don’t want money — they want Nelson. As viewers are watching the episode unfold in real time on TV, they can also follow the action online at cbc.ca/arcticair using their preferred second screen device: Smartphone, laptop or iPad. As each commercial break occurs, a prompt will occur on the tablet, indicating that a new piece of evidence or information is unlocked and ready to view. The use of television combined with a second screen element is a viewer experience designed to present the audience with multiple perspectives to enhance the plot during a highly dramatic period in the episode.

After the episode airs, a version of the experience will be packaged for fans to access on the ARCTIC AIR website, as an extended webisode with exclusive content.

The season finale will have fans on the edge of their seats. With the clock ticking, Bobby, Krista, Mel and Tommy must find a way to rescue Caitlin without getting Nelson killed. To experience the second screen interactive extended episode in real time, visit cbc.ca/arcticair on Wednesday, April 17 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) and follow @CBCArcticAir / facebook.com/arcticair for updates.


Safe is the Word for CBC


If you were excited by this season’s lineup of shows on CBC, you’re bound to like next season. Safe is the word for our public broadcaster. All primetime scripted programs have been renewed, and no new ongoing series have been picked up. Further details will be provided at the upfront in May, so I’d still have hope that a new series or two is up their sleeve if I thought CBC could afford even the sleeve in this second year of imposed austerity.

Promising but short-lived additions are a television movie based on Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes – which, among other accolades, won CBC’s Canada Reads competition a few years ago — and the Best Laid Plans miniseries based on Terry Fallis’ political satire, adapted for television by Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman. Coyne’s association with Slings & Arrows means I already have impossible expectations for that miniseries, as well as the no-basis-in-fact expectation that, like Bomb Girls, if the ratings are decent it could become a maxi-series.

My reality-hating heart has to admit excitement about Battle of the Blades’ return after a season’s hiatus. I didn’t watch it regularly but it’s entertaining and a unique format amid all the [American Reality Show Title] Canada series out there, and it could only be a more quintessentially Canadian idea if they made the skaters ride moose covered in maple syrup. I mean that as a compliment.

The no-brainers for renewal included the resurrected Murdoch Mysteries, which gained even more of an audience in its City to CBC transition, Republic of Doyle, Rick Mercer, Dragons’ Den and Marketplace.

22 Minutes should be a sure thing based on ratings, but never quite seems to be based on network neglect. Slightly more surprising is the renewal of the under-the-radar and lukewarmly rated The Ron James Show, which nonetheless must be cheap to produce and James has earned his place with the network (but it’s not as though that always means much).

There were three titles I scanned for in the renewal list to see which one or ones caught the axe. Mr. D and Arctic Air have declined drastically in the ratings after great starts the previous year, and Cracked, while not completely DOA, never came close to cracking a million. But they were all there. Everything was there except The Big Decision.

Another kind of person would praise CBC for giving shows with middling ratings more than a season or two to find an audience. That kind of person would have thought all of them were shows deserving of a greater audience in the first place, would refrain from pointing out a couple of them found and then lost an audience, and would not have written this post after the 2012/13 season announcement.

The fact that everything was renewed to me doesn’t indicate CBC’s faith in all these shows – seriously, all of them? – but that they had no faith in any of their shows in development.

In sticking with a stable lineup, CBC is coming closer to fulfilling its impossible mission of having to be all things to all people and, in the process, making its schedule look a lot like a private broadcaster’s should, if Canadian private broadcasters didn’t look a lot like American broadcasters. CBC is staying the course with a staid lineup, and fewer people will note the loss of innovation than would have noted the loss of even a mediocre scripted show.

By Diane Wild


CBC announces 2013-14 season



CBC Television, currently in year two of a three-year plan to manage funding cuts, today confirmed a number of new and returning shows for 2013-14, including a brand new season of BATTLE OF THE BLADES, expanded (full) seasons of MURDOCH MYSTERIES and REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, a mini-series based on the award-winning Canadian novel THE BEST LAID PLANS (PDM Entertainment), and a television movie adaptation of THE BOOK OF NEGROES (Conquering Lion Pictures).

The following favorites have been renewed and will return to the programming schedule:

  • 22 Minutes
  • Arctic Air
  • Battle of the Blades
  • Best Recipes Ever
  • Cracked
  • Coronation Street
  • Doc Zone
  • Dragons’ Den
  • the fifth estate
  • George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight
  • Heartland
  • In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita
  • Just for Laughs
  • Mr. D
  • Marketplace
  • Murdoch Mysteries (full season – 18 episodes)
  • The Nature of Things
  • Republic of Doyle (full season – 16 episodes)
  • The Rick Mercer Report
  • The Ron James Show
  • Steven & Chris

Further information about the 2013-14 season will be announced at a later