A new television network is trying to leverage the popularity of festivals while capturing the interest of cord-cutting online video viewers. Uphoric TV, coming to Verizon's Go90 this fall, calls itself "the world's first television network dedicated to the global festival circuit."
The network is effectively a bet on festivals, an increasingly popular way to enjoy not just music but also food, spirits and beer. Twelve percent of U.S. consumers said they discovered music at festivals this year, up from 7 percent in 2014, according to a new Nielsen report.
"It's never been done before, focusing a TV network on festival culture. We feel like it's a massive component of pop culture," says Parag Bhandari, CEO of UG Strategies, the marketing firm that has partnered with Corso Agency to create UphoricTV. UG Strategies has secured broadcast and video rights with both domestic and international festivals. Corso Agency will help provide access to festivals, artist and content production.
The company has already captured footage from many festivals, including Bonnaroo, CMJ, the TBD Fest in Sacramento and the Oasis Festival in Marrakech, Morocco. In addition, it plans to cover food festivals, film festival and other culture events.
UphoricTV is also a bet of non-linear programming typified by Hulu and Netflix. Consumers -- especially millennials -- are demanding new type of video content that's on-demand and accessible on digital devices. Accordingly, UphoricTV's first distribution deal is with Verizon's Go90, a new mobile video service launching Thursday that will also have content from ESPN, CBS Sports and Vice Media, among others. Bhandari says Go90 is "the perfect platform for us, being mobile-first and over the top, which is where we feel the generation is heading." The network's videos will also be made available on YouTube.
There's already a glut of festival content. The Internet has no shortage of live festival performances, and Viacom's Paladia provides cable subscribers a steady flow of performances from the Hangout Music Festival, Glastonbury and many others. Pitchfork, Bonnaroo and Coachella are among the music festivals that provide live streams.
But UphoricTV isn't trying to replicate the performance footage and live streams that already exist. Its goal is to instead create content around festivals just like sports networks create content related to sports that aren't actually live sports events. In fact, UphoricTV sees sports network ESPN as a model. Not only does ESPN show a variety of live sports, it has numerous shows with highlights, investigative reports, commentaries and player profiles.
Bhandari tells Billboard one of the original programs is "On The Road," which follows an artist -- the Struts will be featured in one episode -- for a week or two between festivals. "Artist Hangout" will allow viewers to hang out with an artist or DJ using a festival or city as a backdrop. "Festival Rewind" will feature festival performances and other footage.
There certainly won't be a shortage of opportunities for content. The number of music festivals continues to rise. Joining cornerstone events like Bonnaroo and Coachella have been Live Nation's new FarmBorough country festival in New York City and the first U.S. iteration of the Braziilan brand Rock in Rio in Las Vegas. Music has even been paired with celebrity chefs at events like the annual Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville. "Festivals are exploding exponentially," says Bhandari.