Channel 4 Spread Their Musical Wings

UK broadcaster Channel 4 has launched it’s online video download service powered by long standing online music video pioneer Music Brigade. The Swedish outfit have been around for years and were somewhat ahead of their time when they first launched their consumer facing music video subscription service. Since then European home Internet speeds have caught up and, thanks also in no small part to YouTube, watching music video is commonplace. Music Brigade has evolved its business model to focus more heavily on their b2b offerings, again YouTube has had a not insignificant role to play. But in doing so they’ve acquired a pretty impressive client roster including MSN, RTL and Telenor.

Though the Channel 4 service does offer a la carte downloads and an ad-free premium subscription tier the core offering is ad supported, with in stream pre-roll ads (though currently they don’t appear to have any advertisers on board and all videos pre-roll only with the C4 logo). Regular readers will know that I’m a big advocate of ad-supported as a key tool for generating revenue out of otherwise low spending demographics online. (For more on Jupiter’s view of ad-supported music services see this report). Also watch out for an imminent report by my colleague Nate Elliott that looks at ad-supported video offerings throughout Europe.

With other key music video offerings (e.g. Yahoo, AOL) also ad supported and the huge ‘market conditioning’ effect that YouTube has had, the question is whether online music video will ever actually to be able to evolve as paid format. There is a pretty strong argument that online video should be considered in similar way to music video on TV. Of course the problem with this view is that the record labels have spent the last twenty years telling themselves that they’ll ‘never let an MTV happen again’….

EDIT: An additional thought: Channel 4 do actually have a chance to really differentiate here from the likes of Yahoo by utilizing their in house music programming and editorial expertise from their TV Music shows. If the Music Brigade solution is flexible enough to enable to them to do that is.