This is a significant month in the 63-year history of Motor Trend, because America’s biggest automotive brand is now officially in the TV business. And I don’t mean we have a show on network or cable TV. Been there, done that. Nope, this time we’re truly in the TV business, with our own channel devoted specifically to all things automotive, from the latest and greatest new cars, trucks and SUVs, to the coolest hot rods and lowriders and tuner cars, and even motorcycles. If it’s got an engine and wheels, you’ll find it on the all-new Motor Trend Channel, freshly launched on YouTube.
Hold up. Don’t we already have a YouTube channel? Yes, we do, and after six years of hard work it now has more subscribers than any other automotive YouTube channel in the world apart from Top Gear. But this new channel moves us out of the realm of videos of skateboarding dogs and laughing babies and into an environment of structured, regular programming. Just like a proper TV channel.
The new Motor Trend Channel has been created as part of YouTube’s original content channels initiative. Having built a massive global audience — it gets four billion video views a day — YouTube now wants some of the 60 hours of video uploads it processes every minute to be professionally produced and curated, just like the stuff you see on network and cable TV. The original content channels initiative of which we are a part (along with Madonna, Red Bull, and The Wall Street Journal, to name but a few) is the first step in that process.
The new Motor Trend Channel will launch with eight programs:
- Ignition. This snappy, weekly five minute show will feature first drives and first tests of the hottest new cars, trucks and SUVs from around the world. Stay tuned for features on both the Camaro ZL-1 and the Lamborghini Aventador.
- Head 2 Head. No prizes for guessing this is our comparison test series. We’ll focus on performance vehicles and fast motorcycles, though who knows, we may even mix things up from time to time for a little fun – like we did here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPNs3v4m7TA
- Roadkill. This 22-minute program follows the exploits of Hot Rod’s David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan as they continue their love/hate relationship with hot rods, street machines and other highly strung performance vehicles. In Roadkill Freiburger and Finnegan will hit the road in everything from a 1968 Ford Ranchero to a 1500 horsepower Camaro called the F-Bomb. Just getting to their destination will be an adventure.
- Wide Open Throttle. We’ve turned our highly successful news aggregation portal into a punchy, five minute weekly roundup of automotive news and events from around the world. The show will be hosted and presented from a unique studio environment, and will include segments from channel experts on location around the globe.
- On Two Wheels. The name says it all. This show features first rides and first tests of the newest and hottest motorcycles from around the world. Presented by experts from the Motor Trend channel’s portfolio of motorcycling brands, including Motorcyclist and Dirt Rider, it will deliver the most complete and in-depth coverage of all types of two-wheeled machines.
- Hot Rod Unlimited. Direct from the Hot Rod workshop in El Segundo California, this show will feature the latest new performance parts and expert car-building tips from Car Craft’s Doug Glad, and shop manager Grant Peterson. Hot Rod Unlimited is where the wrenches meet the metal, and one-of-a-kind cars are created.
- Epic Drives. Amazing road trips have become a signature element of the Motor Trend experience. We’ve taken Dodge’s Challenger through Europe, crossed the Transfagarasan in Romania (before Top Gear did it) in a Hyundai Genesis, and drove a Suzuki Kizashi from Tokyo to LA the hard way – via Siberia. Now we’ll have a camera crew with us, so we can bring you along for the ride in one 22-minute show every month.
- The Downshift. This show celebrates the diversity of cars and car culture. Whether it’s extreme off-roading with the editors of 4Wheeler, drifting with the editors of Import Tuner, having the Lowrider guys show you how they roll, or even meeting action sport stars who love cars, The Downshift will bring you fascinating stories, interesting personalities, and, of course, incredible machinery from beyond the automotive mainstream.
We’ll show a fresh espisode every day, Monday through Friday. That’s five new pieces of video a week, more than we’ve ever done before, and delivered on a regular timetable.
This is just the beginning, though. One of the big benefits of internet TV (and the networks and cable operators are taking this very seriously — YouTube was the talk of the National Association of Television Program Executives conference I attended in Miami last week) is that it is interactive. You’ll be able to help us develop the kind of automotive programming you want to see. There are no network suits to get in the way, so we’re looking to roll out fresh programs as quickly as we can. We already have some killer ideas for new shows we hope to debut later in the year.
One of the things we won’t try to be, though, is Top Gear. My talented colleagues Andy Wilman and Jeremy Clarkson, who turned the staid, long-running BBC motoring program into the wildly popular entertainment series it is today, have carved out a unique niche in the automotive media space, and it would be foolish for anyone to try and emulate it. We’ll do it our way instead, though we’ll have some fun as we bring you along for the ride.
Click below to check out the first video from our new Motor Trend channel, an Ignition first test of the Lamborghini Aventador: