Audi fans in the United Kingdom have a digital TV channel that provides them 24-hour programming focused specifically on the carmaker.
But skeptics wonder whether the Audi Channel will be a useful marketing tool or a high-profile, high-cost flop. "In general, it's a great idea," said Thilo Schotte, managing partner at advertising firm BBDO's office in Duesseldorf, Germany. "What is difficult to judge is whether the business case is there -- whether it is cost-effective to produce enough content."
Audi plans to get a lot of use out of the content it produces for its TV channel. "We have concrete plans to take this to other markets," Audi spokesman Juergen de Graeve told Automotive News Europe, a sister publication to Automotive News.
Christine Wild, Audi's head of international product communication in North America and Asia-Pacific, said the carmaker wants to use the Internet in other markets "to spread this content as far as we can and reach a bigger number of people."
Wild said that Audi may use content from its United Kingdom TV channel for an Internet TV service in Germany.
Some of the programs shown on the Audi Channel can be downloaded from anywhere in the world by broadband Internet users from the carmaker's United Kingdom Web site, www.audi.co.uk.
The carmaker launched its TV channel, number 259, in the United Kingdom on the Sky Digital satellite TV platform. The channel provides programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has the potential to reach 7.6 million homes in the United Kingdom.
Audi U.K. works with the brand's United Kingdom advertising agency, BBH, and North One Television, an independent production company, to produce about a third of the new programming for the channel. The rest of the content comes from Audi headquarters.
Mix of programs
The channel's programming schedule offers a mix of infomercials, such as the history of Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system and sporting events such as the Le Mans auto racing series in which Audi competes.
The Audi Channel operates under a self-promotional license granted by the United Kingdom Office of Communications. That means it can provide programming that is promotional but not outright sales-oriented.