In the dog eat dog world of cable television, DirecTV is preparing to release the hounds on a whole new demographic. Starting August 1, DirecTV subscribers will get a channel called DOGTV– a channel whose programming is devoted entirely to dog audiences. DOGTV has run as a local experiment to San Diego, Calif., cable customers, but starting in August will be rolled out nationwide to all DirecTV subscribers.
The programming will not be in HD because dogs' eyes do not notice high-definition. The content is tailored to dogs' eyes and ears, though. The optics and colorization will look a little strange to human eyes, but the sights and sounds are optimized to catch and keep dogs' attention on those long, lonely days when their beloved human owners are not at home.
DOGTV will be available on DirecTV beginning August 1. The channel will be available for free to DirecTV subscribers until August 14. After that date, DOGTV will be available at a price of $4.99 per month. The Internet stream of DOGTV is currently available to anyone regardless of their cable package for $9.99 a month or $69.99 for an annual subscription.
This is not a Weekly World News story. (OK, maybe it once was a Weekly World News story.) The producers of DOGTV have spent years working with veterinarians and researchers to evaluate the visual and audio stimulations which best relax dogs.
"The first afternoon we turned [DOGTV] on, we were surprised that immediately the dogs sat down and watched it," said Escondido Humane Society executive director Sally Costello.
If you want to watch some of this programming aimed at dogs, check out the clips at the DOGTV YouTube channel.
Yes, this concept was a joke in the 1988 film "Scrooged." But the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there are nearly 70 million dogs in the US, and the pet industry makes more than $55 billion annually. The logic behind DOGTV is anything but furry.
"Regular TV is bad for dogs," said founder Ron Levi on this morning's "Today" show. "It’s like the Fourth of July all year-round."
He has a point. My dog goes especially crazy when we watch "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
The pay TV channel will run advertisements, but their current plan is to run advertisements only during prime time hours – when the pooches' owners are presumably home. "During that time there’s an opportunity to do sponsorship and commercials," CEO Gilad Neumann told Forbes. The programming during the prime-time block will actually be aimed at humans – programs on pet care and advice, for example.
Advertising will run more frequently on the paid Internet streaming channel than on the DirecTV version. And it is indeed unusual for a cable channel to allow a paid web-only stream of its broadcast. But DOGTV is showing that sometimes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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