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Fetch TV to launch first ‘virtual channel’, Oxygen

Fetch TV will launch its first ‘virtual channel’ in January, as part of a new deal with NBCUniversal International Networks.

From January 1, a virtual version of true crime channel, Oxygen, will run on Fetch TV’s platform, joining other NBCUniversal channels, including E!, Style and SYFY.

Oxygen will be available from January 1

The new channel will feature programs such as Snapped, Notorious: Aileen Wuronos, and The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers, as well as scripted crime shows from the NBCUniersal catalogue.

However, unlike other channels, Oxygen will appear as a linear channel on Fetch TV devices, but subscribers will also be able to pick programs in the schedule and either watch them live, fast forward or rewind as they wish.

“A virtual channel is effectively two things. It’s a branded SVOD environment, where people can go and watch their favourite programs on demand, but it is also a scheduled channel listing, with the added benefit that there are no ads, you can fast forward a program and you can forward in time to select something that’s on in the future,” Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson told Mumbrella.

“It reflects the fact that different people have different styles of use and even the same people change their behaviour.

“We think that the virtual channels have great potential, because it’s a superior user experience. From the content owner perspective, it’s a lower cost, more flexible but still branded, environment.”

Lorson believes there is huge potential for virtual channels, noting the possibility for free-to-air broadcasters using virtual channels to provide genre-based offerings. Seven, for example, could create 7Comedy.

“We have the ability to take existing branded environments such as the free-to-air SVOD channels and present their content in addition as a linear programmer channel,” Lorson said.

“When the user selects that content, it will be played out of the same location. It represents no additional work but lots of additional exposure. 

“We also recognise the importance of ad free. The virtual channel allows us to present the best content but in an ad free environment. It mirrors the SVOD experience but with the additional flexibility of also presenting as a traditional channels,” he added.

Lorson said his business was in early conversations with international platforms about the model.

Chris Taylor, managing director of NBCUniversal International Networks and Television Distribution, ANZ, said the new channel will allow for a flexible user experience.

“Oxygen is known for delivering high-quality investigative docu-series from the best producers and talent in the true crime genre,” he said. “The channel has seen phenomenal ratings growth in the US and, given the continued rise in popularity of true crime programming in Australia, is set to be a hit with local audiences, too.”

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