Holland Goes Commercial

The Dutch landscape has become a virtual breeding ground for new commercial channels.

The already exploding market got yet another jolt last week when leading Dutch music company Arcade Entertainment Group announced it will launch two new commercial TV channels in Holland on May 1.

One channel, a 24-hour music youth format called Arcade TV, will program Dutch-hosted music video clips similar to the successful VIVA channel in Germany. Advertisers believe the channel will give the U.K.-based MTV Europe a run for its money with Dutch audiences.

The second channel, TV 10 Gold, will target an older demo 12 hours per day with so-called “golden oldies” reruns like “Lou Grant” and “Dr. Kildare.” Since the end of January, two new Dutch language channels – VT4 and Kanal 2 – have also been launched in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking territory of Flanders.

In Holland, top European producer Endemol Entertainment, Dutch broadcaster Veronica, pan-Euro media conglom CLT and Dutch publisher VNU have been in negotiations for several months to start up a four-channel network.

Aege Steensma, director of advertising for media research agency Carat Netherlands, says both of the new Arcade channels could reach a market share of 5% each. Steensma adds that the addition of a third player in the market is calming fears the four channel web could have dominated the commercial marketplace in Holland.

Estimates were that by 1996, without the Arcade venture, some 70% of an estimated $706 million in advertising expenditures could have been in the hands of the Endemol/Veronica net, while the share of commercial ad pie for Dutch public broadcasters would have slipped from its current 49% to a lowly 30%.

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