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Havoc Aims to Be Music Video Star

Supplying free independent music videos for cable video-on-demand platforms, startup programmer Havoc Television is steadily gaining distribution on systems owned by Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and other distributors.

Through carriage deals with six of the eight top cable-TV companies, Havoc executives said the network will be available in 20 million U.S. cable homes by this fall. It already counts 17 million subscribers via national deals with Comcast, Cox and Adelphia Communications Corp.

Havoc was founded last year by former Court TV senior vice president of affiliate sales David deKadt and president Ryan Kresser.

While music-video programmers such as Music Choice charge pay TV distributors monthly license fees for their content, Havoc supplies music videos and short-form content, such as skateboard videos, for free, deKadt said.

“We’re building a youth culture brand,” Kresser said, pointing to Havoc’s library of independent music videos and extreme sports clips. Its target audience is the 14-to-34 demographic.

Havoc is looking to take advantage of a strategy by Comcast, Cox and other operators to use free on-demand content to drive digital cable growth and combat rivals DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. deKadt added.

Havoc runs commercials ranging from five seconds to 15 seconds before each on-demand music video, in addition to sponsorship graphics that run throughout the videos.

Kresser said the company is looking at creating “immersive advertising” through product-placement deals with sponsors.

“We’re careful not to clutter up the service,” he said.

The programmer’s advertisers include Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Cingular Wireless, the U.S. Air Force, and major auto dealers.

Havoc also distributes pay-VOD content to cable operators in which it splits each pay-per-view buy.

Its transactional content consists of six to 12 titles per month, including full-length concerts, action sports movies, extreme fighting competitions and the new movie The Dudesons.

Havoc rival Music Choice, which distributes music videos from major record labels, consistently dominates the most popular music videos on Comcast’s free on-demand platform. But deKadt said data from Rentrak Corp. shows that Havoc consistently places in the top 20% of on-demand programmers on cable.

Havoc’s music-video content suppliers include record labels Epitaph, Astralwerks and Fat Wreck Chords.