MuchMusic ignites Fuse

Explosive marketing emphasizes versatility

Musicvid channel MuchMusic is renaming itself Fuse and launching a new marketing plan in a push to compete with entrenched rivals MTV and its digital-cable sister net MTV2.

As part of the new plan, Fuse will also bow a video-on-demand service, offering free, a-la-carte access to musicvids to existing digital cable subscribers, and it will open a new street-front studio at 11 Penn Plaza in Manhattan.

Move comes as the cable net finally severs its last ties with Canadian broadcasting group Chum, which had once owned 50% of MuchMusic and, until recently, had several programming-distribution agreements with the channel that topper Marc Juris said hampered its ability to build its own identity in the U.S.

“After about five years of partnership, we saw a big opportunity to have a brand that better reflected the U.S. sense of the audience,” Juris said in an interview. “We also really wanted to leverage the interactivity that is becoming so much more prominent in this country.”

Juris said the newly renamed network will focus less on building a single brand, as has been the tradition in cable TV, and focus more attention on changing brands and logos on a regular basis to keep the look of the channel fresh — in a model closer to skateboarding companies than MTV.”Our target audience of kids is getting more and more media savvy,” he said. “You have to change on a dime to keep up.”

MuchMusic has steadily increased its daily viewership over the past several years (to an average of 15,000 in the first quarter of 2003). But its 31 million-strong subscriber base lags that of deep-pocketed rival MTV2, with almost 48 million.

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