College Net Sees New Youth Niche

Two twentysomethings are betting that younger eyeballs want more meaty TV fare than TRL. They’re launching The Destiny Channel, a network that will broadcast to 700 U.S. college campuses, on the proposition that kids are looking for substance, too.

“Advertisers say kids don’t care about anything, but we don’t find that to be true,” said Destiny’s chief strategist, Kevin Stillmock, who created the college cable show Edge TV. “That’s what advertisers miss to a certain extent and programmers miss to a great extent.”

Stillmock’s partner is Robert Gottschall, CEO of college marketing consultancy The Visionaries Group. According to a poll conducted this month by Baltimore-based Visionaries, 65 percent of 620 college students surveyed think television “doesn’t understand their generation,” while 63 percent say their No. 1 source of information and entertainment is the Internet.

Destiny will launch in August with movies from emerging filmmakers, documentaries and some original programming, such as a reality show in which students switch lives with kids abroad and a reality show in which students visit Moldova to engage in Peace Corps-style projects—and compete for prizes.

Stillmock said automotive, alcohol, footwear and cola advertisers have expressed interest. But Destiny faces quite a challenge, cautioned Ray Warren, managing director at Omnicom’s OMD. “Marketing to college kids, who live busy lives between classes, dorm life and other activities, is very difficult,” he said.