Channel 9 GO!

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Australian TV is undergoing a quiet digital revolution amongst the 3 main commercial free to air channels.

Channel Ten successfully launched “ONE HD”, a dedicated digital sports channel with strong branding (owning green) and some ratings winners. Plus they were first out of the gate and used branding agencies to help position the channel. A good effort.

Channel Seven are still to launch their digital offering under much national secrecy.

Channel Nine have announced “GO!” which will launch in August on channel 99.

The new channel will have a “youth focus and target 14 – 39 year olds”. It seems to be an ambitious task to capture an audience that would include kids and potentially their parents.

Few other non-TV businesses or brands would throw the net quite so wide even if it is “free” (as long as you have a digital set top box etc…) and with the increasing amount of choice on screen coupled to fragmentation of audiences (and interests), the battle for eyeballs (and advertisers), will be interesting to watch. Arguably more “general entertainment” channels in a congested, differentiated market will have less and less general interest.

Brand engagement in the traditional sense involves Relevance, Interest and Motivation to a specific target. Ideally a brand should either telegraph itself through a generic title (“Channel 9, Channel 7, Channel 10 TV”) or deliver it’s meaning through a descriptive title (“FOX Sports, Lifestyle, History”).

“GO!” does neither. It is at risk of sounding like a masthead for a women’s magazine or a creative’s ad campaign (as indeed it is for the latest global Visa campaign).

I’m sure that the neon is there to demand our attention, but it doesn’t deliver any communication about the channel to me? Channel 99 (which is where GO! lives) might have been a better branded bet as it telegraphs its location.

As free to air TV companies (traditionally generalists) begin to manage a portfolio of more specific digital brands, perhaps they should refer to pay TV that already understands brand differentiation in the medium. News Corp and others have recognized the importance of branding and generally you don’t get a second chance.

“While branding has not historically been overly important in television….. brand is increasing in importance, along with the growth of multi-platform opportunities”
(Merrill Lynch Equity Report 2008)

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