Like the echo boomers drawn to its dramatic series, The N is growing up fast. Since launching five years ago, the diginet has turned on viewers older than its initial target, tuned in to issues that compel its audience and dropped out of the fluffier shows that defined its early years.

As The N has matured, so too has its audience. Its initial tween target proved too young and limited; it now attracts 14-to-24-year-olds and will cement its commitment to the older segment June 29 with the launch of college drama The Best Years. The 2007 season premiere of hit Canadian import Degrassi delivered more female teens in its time period than any broadcast or cable network show, according to The N.

In December Viacom split management of The N and Noggin, which "frees us up to be more aggressive getting our message to consumers, cable and satellite partners," says SVP/GM Sarah Tomassi Lindman. While there are no imminent plans for The N to go 24/7, "We’re definitely better positioned now to do that," she says.

And though 14-year-olds and 24-year-olds would seem to orbit different worlds, they are "two demographics but one psychographic," says Radha Subramanyam, The N’s VP of research and planning. "Teens and young adults are the drivers for many of the products MSOs sell," says Subramanyam. "We can help [MSOs] talk to the people who really wear the pants in making those decisions."

The network has proven its marketing prowess to at least two MSOs. Last fall it teamed with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks on a Degrassi polling promotion. Viewers in select markets voted by remote on topics like which vixen would win in a catfight, and results were shown on screen. Participation soared, with Time Warner reporting a 30% participation rate.

Jan Almarove, director of interactivity and on-demand services for Bright House’s Florida group, says The N collaboration bested similar promos that typically garner 2%-5% participation. "It’s attributable to their demographic," he says. "They’re very, very tech-savvy. We respect the value of those customers."

New reality series Star Stylist, intended to resonate across multiple platforms, could be another vehicle for MSO collaboration. As The N’s viewers are "hugely into their cell phones," says Amy Friedman, creative director/SVP, original programming, "I could see us easily getting into a reality show that the entire audience could play. That’s where we’re heading."

Hallmarks showcases programmers celebrating significant milestones.

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