Predictably, “Justify My Love” aired five-to-six times per-hour on Box stations nationwide.
Then prudes and (maybe!) racists ruined it
The Box, which, it should be said, also helped break underground rock acts like Green Day, had hit-making clout. And because the company took such a freewheeling approach to edgy material it had cache, working as a divining rod for the underground. But still, in the first half of the ‘90s, things got shaky. Viewership was growing, but a share of Box stock worth $10 in 1989 went for $.50 by 1992, the same year the company hemorrhaged $5 million, according to Billboard.
The problems ran deep. “One-to-two dollars for each song selection offered a steady stream of income but it wasn’t enough,” writes Alan McGlade, who became CEO in 1995, of the reportedly six million requests annually dialed into Box stations. “Our [new] challenge was to drive distribution, build a bigger audience, and then sell to advertisers.”
Easier said than done. While viewers loved The Box’s democratic taboo-smashing approach, cable distributors (who stood to earn between 5 and 7 cents per video) did not. “I think the popularity of hip-hop actually hindered our distribution goals, even as it increased our viewership goals,” says Robson. “As we got a reputation for playing hip-hop, a lot of cable systems weren’t necessarily thrilled about having us.”