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DogTV: genius idea or barking mad?

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15 October 2013

“We are the only channel here that is not aimed at human beings.” So began Ron Levi’s pitch for DogTV, a new TV service aimed at dogs.

With a prominent stand at last week’s Mipcom international programme market, Levi was trying to export the concept of DogTV around the world.

Levi, the co-founder and chief content officer of DogTV, launched the channel in the San Diego area of the US on cable TV in February 2012.

Offering a diet of programmes specially produced for dogs, DogTV is now available across the US on the DirectTV platform.

One of his key priorities is to get people to take the idea seriously. “I meet a lot of people who think I am kidding, so I have to try to convince them for I’m for real,” says the likeable and enthusiastic Levi, who is based in Tel Aviv, Israel and who went to Thames Valley University in the UK.

He says that DogTV programmes are designed to entertain the many dogs around the world who are left alone in homes and apartments while their owners go out to work.

Being left alone makes the dogs stressed and anxious. Levi claims that nearly 10% of dogs in the US are taking the equivilent of ‘doggy prozac’ as a result.



He then shows clips of DogTV content – landscapes, images of sleeping dogs, running dogs and dogs travelling in cars with families.

“Our idea is really very simple,” he says. “It can really help and solve dogs’ problems and ease their anxieties.”

He explains that technical advances in TV quality has made DogTV a possibility. Dogs cannot see the pictures properly on older style cathode ray tube TV’s. They produced a complete image 60 times a second (a 60Hz refresh rate) which is fine for humans to watch but not enough for dogs, who just see a flickering screen. But new high definition screens broadcast at a much higher rate – which dogs can see.

And he’s bullish about the prospects of DogTV, citing the huge amount of money that owners spend on pets as evidence that there is demand for the service.

DogTV is a pay service, charging $4.99 per month for a subscription.

Levi says the DogTV offers three categories of programmes: relaxation - calming pictures of dogs in natural environments, set to classical music to help dogs sleep; exposure - images of things that dogs are afraid of, like lightening, cars and vets, to help dogs overcome their fears; and stimulation - film of dogs exercising and playing.

Levi says that he is at Mipcom to find partners to distribute DogTV in territories around the world.

He says DogTV has signed two distribution deals to the Far East and he has had positive meetings with interested parties from the UK and Ireland too. He is also focusing on Germany, France and Italy.

But the UK, which is famously pet obsessed, is clearly a key target market. And Levi is optimistic about signing a deal. “I have a feeling it is going to happen in the UK sometime soon,” he says.



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