Inside Move: Plugging away at viewers

Nascent net fills a hole with auds in Belgium

When RTL-TVi launched youth-centered net Plug TV in Belgium in February, few believed the new channel could work.

After all, pubcaster RTBF already ran two channels, RTL had two, and so did France’s Groupe AB. And it looked like more TV than was needed by Belgium’s French-speaking couch potatoes, an audience that numbers just 3 million people — plus the 1 million inhabitants of Brussels, who are officially both French- and Flemish-speakers.

Fortunately, Plug had a simple but effective strategy for attracting its target 15-34 aud — lumping all their favorite programs together in one place. Reality shows like “Pop Idol” and “The Bachelor,” along with series like “Friends” and “Sex and the City,” have all come up winners for new net.

According to an internal newsletter by RTL-TVi, after two months of operation, 75% of the target age group had watched Plug.

No single program has made the difference, but the net has given itself a youthful look and feel. Promos include messages like “We won’t give a f*** until you give a f*** about me,” while ad inserts feature young hands making expert use of a PC.

Further differentiating the nascent net, the name of Plug’s backer, boring old RTL, is totally absent.

By presenting itself as different from other channels, Plug has attracted kids looking for something new — even if what they’re getting is programs already dug.

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