Channel V rocks MTV

Upstart wins over Oz crowd

SYDNEY — Fresh-faced music vidcaster Channel V is beating MTV at its own game — it is Australia’s dominant music channel and a growing force in youth culture.

It’s quite an achievement in a market where less than 25% of households have pay TV.

Unlike the mature but static U.S. scene, “the concept of a dominant music channel is new to Australia” says the web’s general manager Barry Chapman.

Launched in 1995, V targets 16-to-34-year olds and attracts 9% of the advertising revenue earned by its delivery platforms. It is the most-watched general channel and was the first of five channels produced by XYZ, a joint venture between metro cabler Foxtel and regional satcaster Austar, to turn a profit three years ago.

V’s profile beats MTV, carried at considerable expense by cabler Optus, in part because it reaches 1.2 million subs compared to 270,000 Optus subs. But also because grass roots marketing has been key to Chapman’s brand-building strategy.

In 2000, a competition to find new hosts generated 4,000 applications and 40 live audition events later, they had unearthed two VJs. Four years ago the web upped the live TV quotient not so much to create programming, but to market the brand among the target audience. It recorded music festivals and rented a shop front in the commercial precinct of Sydney’s Fox Studios for live broadcasts which attract hundreds of spectators every week. It also recorded live gigs from adjacent venues.

And it sent the Channel V Music Bus, around Oz for 12 weeks hosting gigs in response to demands from viewers outside the city.

The $1 million exercise generated merchandising sales worth $A30,000 ($16,000 U.S.), but more importantly, directly touched web’s target aud, 85% of whom live with their parents. “Our job is to build the strongest relationship with them so when they leave home they’ll want pay TV,” Chapman says.

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