DirecTV is going to the dogs

dog with remote

With hundreds of channels, cable and satellite television are great for demographic and behavioral audience segmentation. But DirecTV may be taking things just a tiny bit too far.

According to a July 9 Variety report, “DogTV — touted as the first TV network aimed at man’s best friend — is a real 24-hour channel that will be unleashed on DirecTV starting Aug. 1.”

‘Dog-approved’ – by humans

While this may seem like craziness, PTV, the channel’s owner, claims it actually spent more than four years – that’s more than 28 in dog years – developing and testing this 24-hour channel.

Since focus-grouping dogs obviously doesn’t work, they did all four years of this development and testing with humans.

Humans involved in the development included Prof. Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior department of clinical sciences at Tufts University, and Victoria Stilwell, of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog.”

“Testing” consisted of obtaining endorsements from the Humane Society, the ASPCA and the American Veterinary Medicine Association. Somehow, they feel, this gives them the basis for calling their programming “dog-approved.”

The rigorous testing program completed, they then test-marketed DogTV last year over San Diego’s Cox and Time Warner cable systems and on Roku Internet set-tops.

Now, they’re ready for the big time, DogTV’s August 1 national rollout. Subscribers before August 10 will get it free for 30 days through mid-September; after that it’s $4.99 a month for everyone.

Fit for a dog

The programming, they say, will be fit for a dog.

In keeping with canine attention spans, it will comprise brief, three- to six-minute, video clips “created to entertain, relax and stimulate stay-at-home dogs, so owners don’t come home to ripped-up couches, shredded magazines or a favorite pair of heels chewed to bits,” the owners say.

The clips themselves will rotate through three categories: relaxation, stimulation and “exposure,” which centers on segments designed to habituate dogs to domestic stimuli.

Unanswered questions

The project raises some questions:

Is this just a trick to sucker humans who anthropomorphize their pet dogs and see them as cute little children into paying monthly fees? Or will dogs actually watch it?

If they do watch one of the longer, six-minute, videos, will dogs go back to shredding magazines, etc., over the other 23 hours and 54 minutes of the day? An American Kennel Club/IAMS survey showed that “nearly half of dog owners” – that’s a minority – “said their pets showed ‘some interest'” – that’s less than 24 hours’ worth – “in what was happening on the TV screen.”

Will PTV just make its money from a piece of DirecTV’s $4.99 a month satellite fee? Or will they try to sell commercials aimed at this new and exciting target audience?

Will there be audio up in the 23,000-45,000 Hz range, that dogs can hear but people can’t?

And will Nielsen have to supplement its people meters with dog meters?

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