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MUSIC CHOICE HAS CLICKER CONTROL
Sattelite/Cable Music Provider’s Deal with DirecTV and Wink Lets TV Audiences Buy CDs With Their Remotes
I like a story that’s all about staying on the couch.

Music Choice, which offers digital music channels via cable providers, has partnered with DirecTV and tech company Wink Communications. The result: a music service that’s now in several million homes will enable consumers to purchase CDs via a TV remote.

"It’s incredibly unsophisticated," admits Music Choice CEO Dave Del Beccaro, who adds that the simplicity of the service, which went live today, is key.

DirecTV’s three million subscribers, in addition to dancing spastically around the house to such Music Choice channels as R&B Hits, Rap, Metal, 70s, 80s, Alternative Rock or Progressive, can turn the impulse to buy whatever’s playing into a virtually instant purchase, clicking to a retail screen and keying in credit card and delivery info. Valley Media provides retail fulfillment.

Compare this to the already lucrative direct-marketing approach traditionally pursued on TV, which requires viewers to jot down a number and try to get through just as thousands of other consumers are doing the same. Which is why I fell asleep that one time trying to order the "Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute" compilation.

"It’ll be the first time in a mass medium where you can just buy whatever you listen to when you listen to it," Del Beccaro says. "We’re curious what kind of an impact that has on people’s buying habits." Even if sales of CDs (or the banners that MC sells on its screens) aren’t initially huge, the company’s primary revenue comes from the cable and satellite companies—so as long as subscribers pay their bills, Music Choice should have ample opportunity to grow the service.

Del Beccaro adds that Music Choice’s average household listening to 13.9 hours per week, mostly using it as background. Yet despite the bandwidth-saving minimalism of its content—audio with some artist info onscreen—research shows users looking up at the screen 11.8 times an hour. Users who listen to the service through stereo or home-theater audio comprise about one-half of total listeners.

Naturally, Music Choice programming is tied into the company’s website, which promotes MC’s concert series and offers viewers a chance to sound off on programming as well as downloads, news and more. The relationship between the cable and web platforms is expected to grow in time.

According to Del Beccaro, Music Choice is interested not only in marketing and advertising relationships with labels—like its recent deal with Warner Bros. for its cable concert series—but also in artist info to bolster its on-screen content.

Now pass the Cheezits—they’re playing Asia.

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