Music videos are coming back to your TV, 24 hours a day. MTV has nothing to do with it. And neither do any computer algorithms.
Instead, Vevo, which was built as the ultimate on-demand hub for music videos on the Web, is rolling out Vevo TV, a linear, programmed network that will live on both the Internet and TV. To start, the new Vevo TV will be accessible on Vevo.com, in app form on Apple, Android and Windows tablets and phones, and on TV via Roku and Xbox (but notably, not YouTube). Beyond the Web, the hope is to eventually launch an old-school cable network, said Michael Cerda, Vevo's svp, product and technology.
Vevo TV, which debuts today, will feature hour-long programming blocks centered around musical artists and genres. If you have a particular video you want to see, you’ll have to wait for it, like millions did in the 1980s when Thriller was on heavy rotation on MTV (which continues to have a number of 24-hour digital music channels). In addition, expect lots of artist interviews and live concerts on the new net.
So what’s Vevo—a joint venture among Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media—doing programming a linear channel to a generation accustomed to creating personalized playlists and discovering music with the help of algorithms, not DJs?
Cerda said that since Vevo rolled out to more over-the-top TV platforms like Xbox and Roku, the company has seen the duration of its viewing session spike. Plus, Vevo.com has been rearchitectured over the past year to encourage more continuous playlists and discovery. Indications are that a segment of users may be inclined to just let Vevo play.
"What we found was, there’s a class of viewer that wants more choice still but doesn’t want the work,” said Cerda, sitting amidst of slew of retro suitcases and TVs in an Austin, Texas, bar that will serve as Vevo TV’s SXSW coming-out locale. “Part of the thesis is the millennials, who were never programmed for; they were born on the Internet. They have a paradox of choice, and there’s too much for them.”
If Vevo TV takes off, expect more such networks, such as a theoretical hip-hop-only Vevo TV. Cerda sees Vevo TV becoming popular among people throwing parties at home. “One of the rules we have with this is, no algorithms," he said. "If we can find an ounce of magic for people, this will have worked.”
Vevo TV isn’t completely analog. Users can save songs they like for future playlists or share them with friends via social media. They can also pause live programming.
Besides catering to a different slice of Vevo’s audience, the new network should excite advertisers, who like Vevo's premium content and are looking for TV-like ad offerings and measurement. Already, Vevo has signed on Adidas Originals, McDonald's, Red Bull and State Farm.
But overall, the long-term goal is cable distribution—ideally by the end of this year. That would get Vevo in front of more users on a regular basis and give the company an even clearer shot at TV budgets.
“We’re talking to everybody," said Cerda "That is a pretty clear bet. [Cable] is still leading from a viewership perspective."
“This lets us take back some ownership," said Cerda.