Networks Tune Up New Offerings - Multichannel

Networks Tune Up New Offerings

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For cable operators looking to bulk up their music offerings, there’s no shortage of help from the networks.

In February 2006, Fuse launched “Just for the 'F’ of It,” a hip, busy Web site that MSOs can drop into their portal as another way to cater to the 12-34 demo. The site helps spotlight artists and labels that are available on the partner operators’ on-demand channels. It also features music downloads, which currently are free.

“It’s more about the partnership in marketing the product than it is about either one of us getting any extra revenue out of it,” said Joe Glennon, senior vice president of distribution at Fuse. But eventually Fuse and its affiliates might try to monetize music. “We’d definitely look into that,” Glennon said. “It seems natural.”

The Fuse Web site also includes Podcasts from Mark Hoppus, the former Blink 182 lead singer.

In the eyes of users age 18-34 — a key demographic for digital music — the Podcasts help position the operator as a source for downloads rather than just linear audio and video, or on-demand channels. Creating that perception could be useful for cable operators that want to expand their music offerings to include more fee-based download services. “They’re definitely looking into ways to do that,” Glennon said.

Fuse also is developing ways for it and affiliates to extend music to a wider range of platforms — including cell phones. In November 2005, Fuse inked a deal with MobiTV, which will make FuseMobile available through a national wireless carrier. That has the potential to ensure that cable music offerings are in front of wireless users even when they’re away from their TV or PC.

MTV: Music Television, meanwhile, wants to enable multiplatform music offerings with its Urge service, set to debut later this year.

MTV touts Urge as a way to streamline the music-finding and purchasing processes for both consumers and multichannel providers: Instead of being just a utility for downloading songs, Urge will help introduce consumers to songs and artists, and then make it easy to purchase tracks via their PC, TV or other devices.

“The cable operators have a huge opportunity to do something because they’re multiplatform, and some of them are going to have another platform with wireless,” said Jessica Heacock, senior vice president of affiliate marketing at MTV Networks. “We’re going to make this easier for them to play in the music space. They won’t be ceding any ground. They’ll be leading.”