The channel that was once the mighty MuchMusic – “The Nation’s Music Station” – is down to airing a lone, one-hour block of videos, Monday to Friday.
As first reported by The Canadian Press, Much has cut six hours of video programming from its daily lineup, leaving Much Retro Lunch – a retrospective of videos from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, as the last vestige of the channel’s place in Canadian pop culture.
With digital platforms like YouTube now the leading destination for music video consumption, Scott Henderson, VP of Communications, for Bell Media, said most recently, video play on Much accounted for about 30 per cent of the channel’s programming, but just four per cent of the audience. For example, Playlist – a weekday morning block of videos, airing from 6 a.m. – 1 p.m., was attracting an average of less than 4,000 viewers.
Henderson told Broadcast Dialogue that Much Retro Lunch has continued to show some “modest popularity.”
“There is no change to Much’s programming strategy, which for some time now has focused on delivering content on the platforms where its audience lives, including its industry-leading social media platforms,” said Henderson, who points out that the channel’s Twitter account boasts more than a million followers, and its multi-channel Much Studios network more than 9.5 million YouTube subscribers combined.
That strategy also includes offerings like the Mike on Much podcast, hosted by writer, director, and producer Mike Veerman, and co-produced by Arkells frontman Max Kerman, along with YouTuber and pop culture aficionado Shane Cunningham. The podcast was adapted to become Crave’s first original interview series in December.
On television, the Much stable of shows includes South Park, Broad City, Drunk History, Ridiculousness, Inside Amy Shumer, and Tosh.0, in line with the youth-driven, irreverent aesthetic the brand has become known for. In place of the morning video block, Much is now airing episodes of Just For Laughs Gags and Comedy Now!
Henderson said in addition to the iHeartRadio MMVAs continuing for the foreseeable future and Much airing CTV reality competition series The Launch, music-related content will continue to be published on Much’s digital properties.
“iHeartRadio Canada is Bell Media’s main music brand, but music-related articles that are socially relevant and trendworthy will continue to be featured on Much.com, as they will elsewhere in the Bell Media ecosystem,” said Henderson.
Much’s drift away from videos, follows word of the imminent demise of its former French-language counterpart MusiquePlus in Quebec, which will be rebranded at the end of August. Groupe V Média says its new incarnation will cater to a female audience with the yet-to-be-named channel featuring series like Gilmore Girls and romantic comedies. Groupe V is hoping to repeat the success of Max, formerly MusiMax until 2016. Max’s market share was bumped by its transition to mostly American scripted drama, including FX series like Feud and American Crime Story.
MuchMusic first debuted in Aug. 1984, as one of the country’s first specialty channels, and served as a launching pad for the careers of many Canadian broadcasters including J.D. Roberts, Steve Anthony, Jeanne Beker, Laurie Brown, Denise Donlon, Sook-Yin Lee, George Stroumboulopoulos, and Devon Soltendieck, among many others.
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