Audi launched its own digital channel on Sky TV back in October 2005, running until August 2009 before it was moved to the IPTV (internet protocol television) platform which it resides on today. In almost 3 years the Audi Channel was watched by more than 21 million people in 8 million homes, with just under half of those believed to have requested brochures and 13% booked a test drive as a direct result of its programmes.
Whilst the concept was novel, in practice the challenge of producing a broadcast TV channel running 24/7 was difficult to maintain and therefore its evolution into an on-demand format was inevitable.
Following Porsche TV’s approach of providing clips for the latest new models, motorsport products and technology, the Audi Channel provides similar high quality videos but covering a much wider variety of topics.
Audi use recognisable names and faces to review its cars, connect with its audience and convey the lifestyle feel which ultimately appeals to a broader audience. In translating their content for the web Audi have edited each clip down to around 5 minutes – reflecting the likely attention span of web users. It’s a mix of infotainment and (some) entertainment, designed to extend its relationship with current customers, reach out to new customers, and grow awareness of the company’s brand.
For example, ex-British touring car champion Tim Harvey is a successful fit in the Audi R8 Drivetime video, where Harvey is his usual enthusiastic and informative self as he grins round Latvia in one of the best sports cars on sale today. The presentation format is admittedly a little early 90’s Top Gear and we could perhaps do without the music when Harvey stomps on the loud pedal, but the video is certainly easier to watch than some of Porsche’s product videos..
Broadly speaking the Audi Channel works quite well, although most of the web content has been around for a while and therefore is beginning to lose some appeal. Audi have reduced the volume of content they now produce since moving to their on-demand format, which in some ways is a shame, but arguably they’ve reaped the rewards of being an innovator in brand-centric television, so I guess in that respect it’s job done.
In addition to its performance car reviews, the Audi Channel also covers lifestyle, sport and the subject of innovators. For example the Audi Q5 Drivetime video featuring English actor Tom Hardy is more of a lifestyle review with the Q5 woven in and out of shot occasionally. The review is less focussed on the dynamics of the Q5 and more the experience gained whilst driving the Q5. Whilst Hardy is obviously not a seasoned car journalist, his laid back demeanour, the beautiful location and way the piece is shot (particularly the filtering effects used at the start by the waterfront) means you can happily let the piece wash over you.
The Audi Channel also takes advantage of its motorsport connections by drafting in two-time Le Mans winner Alan McNish to demonstrate all sorts of angles in Audi’s all round weapon of the choice, the RS6. Further motorsport related videos of interest can be found in the form of Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason piloting an old Auto Union around Ingolstadt, a good example of the broad range of content available on this channel.
For those wanting to take a closer look at the technology behind the Ingolstadt marque, BBC F1’s Ted Kravitz is on hand to explain the R8 in greater depth with the assistance of Audi’s Mike Faiers, who tries to satisfy the interest of those wanting to know how the R8 performs as it does.
What we like most about the Audi Channel on SkiddPlayer are some of the latest videos produced by Audi of America. Taking advantage of the less-strict advertising laws in the US that allow direct brand comparisons, Audi takes a side swipe at BMW in the most blunt but hilarious of ways in this advertisement, before proceeding to claim superiority over a number of brands (including Ferrari, no less) with this effort. Hmm, what do you think?
Overall the Audi Channel remains a good source of information about the Audi brand, however other manufacturers have begun producing more entertaining viral content that we’ll highlight in our next channel review.