Country Music Television, kicking off its commitment to air
original programming along with its music videos, will debut four specials and series
during the next three months, including televising Farm Aid for the first time ever.
Farm Aid '98 will air Oct. 3 from 6 p.m. to
midnight, marking the first time in 12 years that the benefit concert for family farmers
will be televised on CMT and the first major concert aired by the network.
CMT began its campaign to promote the Farm Aid concert by
being a title sponsor for the New Hampshire International Speedway at Loudon, N.H. And
this past Sunday (Aug. 30), CMT's sister network, The Nashville Network, televised
that NASCAR Winston Cup race, the "Farm Aid on CMT 300," which is the biggest
sporting event of its kind in New England.
Country.com, the World Wide Web site for CMT and TNN, also
offered an insiders' look at the race through a Web cast that featured live audio and
video streamed from cameras in race cars as they sped along the track.
CMT is mounting an effort to differentiate itself with
exclusive programming beyond just music-video shows as it faces competition from another
country-music video network, Jones International Inc.'s Great American Country.
The growing CMT now reaches about 42 million homes, but it
has been switched out in some markets and by some smaller MSOs and replaced by GAC.
This month, CMT premiered its new weekly series for
teen-agers, CMT Hit Trip, which reports on what's new in cities across the
country and includes interviews with country-music artists on the road.
"Rather than bringing an artist to a studio,
we're trying to get out," said Chris Parr, CMT's director of programming.
CMT Hit Trip will have a 12-week run of hour-long
"The focus is on the younger demographics, the 12- to
24-year-olds," Parr said. "We want it to appeal to the younger demographic, but
not have older viewers tune out."
Also as part of its original-programming strategy, CMT
debuted in August the first of a series of Video Bio specials that it plans to air.
Throughout the past month, CMT aired Shania's Video Bio, centered around star
Shania Twain and the debut of her upcoming video, "When."
After Farm Aid, in November, CMT will debut All Access,
a series of one-hour live concerts that will run throughout 1999.
CMT's programming mix will be roughly 30 percent
original and 70 percent videos, compared with the 10 percent original that it had been
airing, according to a CMT spokesman.