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Vevo TV Goes Back to the Future

Seeking to bridge the gap between online video playlists and traditional music television, musicvideo site Vevo has announced the launch of a linear, ad-supported Web TV platform, dubbed Vevo TV.

For today’s launch, Vevo TV is available in the U.S. and Canada, via Vevo’s website and apps for iOS, Windows, Xbox and Roku. Featuring a 24-hour programming schedule, the platform will feature curated video blocks as well as original programming. It also boasts a caching feature allowing users to flag videos for later viewing.

The development follows last year’s site redesign, which aimed to expand user engagement by rolling out an Echo Nest-powered video playlist function. But while that feature nodded to more modern digital offerings such as Pandora, tailoring videos to a user’s preferences and viewing history, Vevo TV is definitively old-school, running MTV-style programming interspersed with advertisements, all scheduled in advance.

As the site tubthumped in a blog post, all content will be “hand-programmed by humans,” as opposed to the algorithm-driven approach of most digital music services.

Of course, as with any television venture, ratings will count too. “We’re going to pay close attention to what our viewers have to say, and we’ll be looking at real-time data,” said Doug McVehil, Vevo’s senior VP of music programming. “We’re not just going by our guts — it’ll be a combination of gut and real analytics.”

The platform boasts a five-person team of programmers, including veterans of MTV, Fuse and traditional radio. To start, the original content will consist of repurposed versions of Vevo’s existing VOD programs, as well as an expanded, half-hour version of weekly roundup show “Hot This Week.” Taking on the role once occupied by MTV’s “TRL” in the afternoon will be new offering “#HotNow,” which will feature the day’s most popular videos. McVehil said the service is exploring hosted shows with VJs.

While old-timers may welcome the return to video programming, whether users who came of age after the heyday of MTV will take to the top-down model is very much an open question. But even if the service seems to run counter to the prevailing philosophy that every media experience be endlessly personalized and customizable, McVehil sees a demand for a lean-back component as well.

“You don’t always want to lean forward and click and search,” McVehil said. “For example, during weekends from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. we’re doing an EDM block, and eventually there’ll be live streams from clubs around the world. We see young people just keeping that on as the soundtrack to their night.

“A lot of it, quite frankly, is experimentation, seeing what people respond to and what they don’t.”

The company — jointly owned by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media — hopes to expand Vevo TV to cable or satellite TV sometime within the year, though what form such a venture would take remains up in the air.

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