Anheuser-Busch Launches Online Channel

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 3, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Move over Clydesdales, here comes Bud.TV. Anheuser-Busch online is starting a TV channel geared towards young drinkers. The question is at this moment, how young? It doesn't take much for underage Web surfers to find something like Bud TV.

With me now is Anheuser-Busch vice president of global media and sports marketing, Tony Ponturo. Also joining us from New York is FOX business correspondent Dagen McDowell.

So, Tony, first of all, Bud TV does what?

TONY PONTURO, ANHEUSER-BUSCH: Bud TV is going to be an online network to reach the 21- to 34-year-old adult. It will be fun, entertaining.

GIBSON: What will it have on it?

PONTURO: It's going to have eight channels. We're going to do our own shows. It's only going to be small clips, a minute to five-minute, nothing really in length. Won't see a lot of commercials. A lot of people think it's going to be a lot of commercials. It's going to be product integration.

GIBSON: How are you going to keep underage kids from going on a site like this and getting ginned up to go drink your product?

PONTURO: Well, the first thing we're going to do is card you when you come on. And we realize, you know — we don't go on until February 5 — so that's maybe not going to be enough, so now we're looking at forms of verification that I think will satisfy everybody, that if you come on this site, you're going to be 21 and above.

GIBSON: Hey, Dagen, from a business point of view, tell the audience why Tony Ponturo is trying to reach these 21 to 35 year olds?

DAGEN MCDOWELL, FOX NEWS BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Because that audience — those are the beer-drinking audience. They're young, they're up-and-coming. These are the folks that every advertiser wants to go after, and no better place than to go on the Internet.

The Internet is seeing explosive growth in advertising dollars, but Bud is doing something unusual because they're starting to create their own content. They're going to create TV channels, and that's really something utterly unusual here.

But one thing that Tony and Bud need to worry about is, if these channels appear too commercial, there could be a backlash against these young guys they're going after because there's a real feeling out there, anti-corporate sentiment. You have to kind of hide the ads, which I'm sure Bud is going to try and do.

GIBSON: Well, what are you going to do about that, Tony?

PONTURO: It's going to be very relevant, and you may be surprised. You may not even see a brand identification in a particular show. You know, we understand the subtlety. We understand this consumer group wants to be entertained, they don't want to be overcommercialized, and we think they'll reward us for understanding that sensitivity that we're talking about.

GIBSON: Why is it you think those 21 to 35 year olds will go to the Internet rather than just turn on the TV?

PONTURO: Well, we're sort of going — 20 years ago, we went through the satellite explosion. You're celebrating your 10th anniversary. You know, I started in this business when there were three networks, you know. Now we have 500 channels, and now this next generation of millennials, as they're sort of called, turning 21 since the year 2000, are now growing up on the Internet. This is their medium, and this is where they're spending time.

GIBSON: Dagen, is he right about that?

MCDOWELL: Absolutely. Just look at the success and popularity of a site like YouTube or even other — one that News Corp owns, That is — it's explosive growth. This is where young people go to get their entertainment. They're downloading TV shows. They're even downloading movies over the Internet. They're not turning on their regular old TV sets, and that's the audience that Bud is going after.

GIBSON: So, Tony, this starts in February. How much usage do you project right away?

PONTURO: Well, you know, we're sort of looking — YouTube has about 3.5 million monthly unique adults, 21 to 34, and that's growing. Could we be there a year from February 5? That would be a nice goal to have.

GIBSON: Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch, also known as Bud, and of course our FOX News business correspondent, Dagen McDowell, back in New York. Dagen, thank you very much.

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