It's been two years since TVNZ launched its youth-orientated U channel and to celebrate the state broadcaster is launching a new late night show called U Late.
U Late is the "edgier" cousin of U Live, airing weekdays between 10:30pm and midnight starting 1 April. Hosted by Tim Lambourne and stand up comedian Guy Montgomery, the show calls upon the fashion du jour of social media interactivity. Segments on celebrity faux pas, internet memes, trends and guests will be sprinkled with viewer commentary from Facebook and the like.
Plenty of shows try their hands at incorporating social media into the format. TVNZ's Seven Sharp uses online surveys and scrapes comments from the social network as bites. TVNZ acting head of digital channels and media Thor Bayer says U Late will do more than the odd Facebook poll.
"It's an extension of the kind of interactivity you see on U Live, making use of the AO timeslot," he says.
"We're looking to jump from pop culture to politics in a single breath...we expect our audience to participate fully in our discussions."
TVNZ U has over 55,000 likes on its Facebook page. StopPress has asked TVNZ for further information on the number of New Zealanders who engage with U Live daily on social networks.
U Live gets two new hosts. Kirsteen MacKenzie and Eli Mathewson join current hosts Matt Gibb, Connor Nestor and Rose Matafeo. Mathewson is up for a Billy T Award this year while MacKenzie comes from TVNZ competitor Mediaworks.
TVNZ U's ratings aren't easily available. TVNZ U brand manager Cindy Carleton says "We don't get specific ratings for U because its audience is small." She adds that for the 2012 period the channel had 1.5 million average viewers per month.