Viewers help create Travel Channel show 'Insane Coaster Wars'

By Natan Edelsburg 

In honor of their new show, “Insane Coaster Wars,” the Travel Channel has asked their fans to vote on their favorite roller coasters across a variety of categories — from extreme heights to speed demons — to help determine the outcome of the show. Each episode highlights the category winner, and the finale in August will count down the top most popular coasters overall.

Even though the program doesn’t premiere until July 8th, the network is investing in what Facebook’s Kay Madati described as the “before” social TV strategy. This particular show taps into a popular summer activity – theme parks and roller coasters. We spoke with Ross Babbit, SVP of Programming & Production for the Travel Channel about the project and those passionate coaster fans.

Lost Remote: How does the voting work?

Ross Babbit: From May 7th until June 1st, the Travel Channel community will vote on a total of 24 roller coasters representing six different categories: G-Force Giants, Hang’em High, Splintering Speedsters, Wrong Way Up, Extreme Heights and Speed Demons. Each category, featuring four roller coasters each, also represents the name of the episodes that are set to air beginning Sunday, July 8 on Travel Channel. At the end of each episode, the coaster that received the greatest number of votes by the Travel Channel community will be revealed as the “Best” of the G-Force Giants, Hang ’em High, etc. And on Aug 12, the one-hour season finale will count down the top ten coasters with the most votes.

LR: How will it make TV more social?

Babbit: Travel Channel is seeking to engage its viewers on a much deeper level across multiple platforms. We are able to develop stronger connectivity between the program and the viewer be creating dialogue through social media by asking them to help determine the outcome of individual episodes. By going online and participating in the conversation and entering their vote they are creating a very engaging & social dialogue with our programming and our brand.

Moreover, how do you answer the question, ‘Which is the best coaster?’ It’s so subjective. Travel Channel has always had many coaster enthusiasts as viewers and in many ways Travel is the best place to go for Coasters and Water Parks and general amusement. What better way to determine the best coaster than to ask the Travel Channel community. It’s perfect.

LR: What partners are you working with?

Babbit: Voices Heard Media is working with us on the poll/voting system, and Indigo Films in San Francisco is the production company producing the series for Travel Channel.

LR: What are the traditional TV components? / How is this social TV activation being integrated on air?

Babbit: The series is a competition to find the best coaster and the viewer voting determines the winner, which will be revealed on-air at the end of each episode. It culminates in a special one-hour season finale that counts down the ten coasters that received the most votes. You’ll have to tune in every week to watch and see who wins.

LR: Anything else?

Babbit: It’s been exciting and rather surprising to see just how involved so many people are getting when it comes to ‘Insane Coaster Wars.’ Folks are so dedicated to their favorite coasters and are not at all afraid to share their opinions. Viewers will be treated to a coaster show the likes of which has never been seen. It really is a coaster show for the 21st century. They’ll see a G-force meter, real time, as it measures the Gs riders are experiencing during the ride. They’ll see a heart rate monitor hooked up to a rider and watch her beats-per-minute go through the roof as the adrenaline starts pumping when the cars scream around the track. We used a bunch of new technology to capture POV angles that make the viewer feel like they are actually riding the rides.