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Can a new channel offering BLAZE it’s way through the competition?

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Given the never ending doom and gloom surrounding the TV industry at times, with its seemingly apocalyptic demise being forever forecast, launching a new TV channel into the mix clearly takes a bit of nerve.

A&E Networks, whose UK portfolio currently consists of HISTORY, Lifetime, Crime + Investigation and H2 clearly have that nerve with their new channel launch, BLAZE. BLAZE’s male skewed schedule will feature series such as Pawn Stars, Mountain Men and American Restoration alongside true crime shows such as The First 48 and Unusual Suspects. It has launched on the Freeview platform which is already home to male audience big hitters Dave, ITV4 and Quest.

...the total severance of our relationship with the box in the corner is still a while off yet

Amid the diversification of video viewing, can a new linear channel really survive? The short answer is yes. But with caveats. Clearly TV’s role in both our day to day lives and the advertising video ecosystem is constantly evolving and its place in the pecking order has certainly diminished. But the total severance of our relationship with the box in the corner is still a while off yet.

The migration of viewing away from the traditional set is old news these days. We all have a potential TV in our pocket, our commutes are spent watching epic series in 25 minute chunks or catching up on missed favourites. Our evening’s viewing schedule is chosen by us. We watch what we want when we want to watch it. And we love it. We REALLY love it. And if there is nothing to entertain us on the main set, hours can be whiled away on our favourite You Tube channels, watching catwalk shows and puddle jumpers on Periscope, and most recently with Facebook Live – we are all potential broadcasters. The effect of this on the TV advertising industry is profound and advertisers and agencies must keep pace with the resultant increasing digital video complexity. But away from the industry, when we boil it down to actual people, our old friend in the corner is here to stay regardless.

The reason for this is almost too simple. In this world of endless options and opportunities, we sometimes just need a break from the dizzying spectrum of choice. Anyone who has spent an hour flicking through all the options on Netflix, before having a browse through Amazon Prime, then trawled through iPlayer and All4 before giving up and settling down to the comfort of QI repeats on Dave, will be able to identify with needing a break from the vast array of options at our fingertips. Every now and then we just want to stick on a channel that we know has curated an evening’s worth of content that appeals to us. Actively seeking out the next big thing can be frustrating at times.

So new linear channels absolutely can continue to thrive so long as us humans continue to need a break now and then. To do so they need compelling content, a clear identity that spans across platforms, availability on every possible touchpoint, multiple revenue streams and dynamic relationships with advertising partners. In doing all of this successfully, they can thrive by tapping into our inherent human laziness and into those moments when we want our involvement with our downtime to be passive rather than active.

So good luck to all TV channels future and present. Me and my sofa salute you.

Becky Smithson – Head of AV

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