Will Classical TV Challenge Ovation? And Where’s Their Theater Blog?

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Is is possible that Ovation has a competitor in Classical TV? And what would be the pluses and minus for the performing arts if that were the case?

Certainly to judge by the mere touting, huffing and breast-beating of a single press release is folly: anyone can imply, promise or communicate any brand value they like at any time they wish without necessarily delivering the truth (or the consequences).

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Still, the press release the CFR received yesterday regarding Classical TV begs the question of whether a second tube channel devoted to the performing arts represents a segment of a segment of a segment of a market, or proof that the market itself is bigger than we thought.

Well, we don’t have to decide the answer to the question right now. Ovation is on TV, with a promisingly content-rich website buttressing and amplifying its televised offerings. Classical TV is the opposite: all about online performing arts programming (more than 1,000 hours of it so far), plus early-stage blogs and other complementary content, and the potential, one assumes, for a someday-segue into broadcasting.

Perhaps in 2012 or 2013 they’ll meet in the middle and call it a merge.

In any event, the press release from Classical TV aims to draw attention to some numbers that I also find illuminating:

Classical TV Draws a Surprisingly Young Audience for its High-Quality, Full-Length Performing Arts Programming Online

In little more than a year since launching, Classical TV (www.classicaltv.com), the premier destination online for streaming high-quality, full-length performing arts video programs, is attracting a conspicuously young audience:

20.6% are 18-to-24 years old
51.2% are 18-to-34 years old-more than half!
79.6% are 18-to-49 years old

Classical TV, by the way, launched on July 30, 2009 with a free streaming of the opening night gala of the Salzburg Festival; the aforementioned 1,000 hours of performing arts video programming is available “largely” for free. (Subtle marketing, that.) In addition to opera, there is symphonic and chamber music, ballet and modern dance, jazz and pop music, theater and musicals, and documentaries. The blog and other content is courtesy of Claudia La Rocco, Vivien Schweitzer, Chris Kompanek, Glenn Kurtz, and Robert J. Hughes. Nice stuff, though there’s something clearly missing.

Please read the following open letter — and cut and paste and send if you wish:

[Date]

Stephen Greco,
Content Director
Classical TV
([email protected])

Dear Mr. Greco:

There is no theater-specific blog on Classical TV. What’s up with that?

Sincerely,

Also, the number of theater offerings on the site is too small — to my mind, inexplicably so. Let’s ameliorate the matter quickly, shall we?

Finally, the press release states that on the basis of its audience figures (derived from Microsoft Analytics), a “much younger audience exists for cultural presentations” than was previously expected. As Greco puts it:

“We’ve made it easier for everyone, including younger people, to engage with classical performances. Others are starting to do the same thing: Peter Gelb at the Metropolitan Opera, Alan Gilbert at the New York Philharmonic — people who are thinking in new ways about reaching new ears and eyes, and reshaping the demographic of classical audiences. Of course, we have a secure base of mature culture lovers, but we’re delighted that many younger viewers are watching, say, La Boheme, here for the first time and then coming back for more.”