Back to the MTV future
After dabbling with reality TV programming in the past few years and going through a rough patch with staff departures and internal re-organisations, MTV has resurfaced and has its sights set on rocking the cable airwaves.
The king of music videos now wants to be seen as a content provider instead of simply a TV channel, and since last year has started receiving non-TV briefs from marketers - although 70% of all briefs it receives still has TV components.
"It takes time in big companies to turn the ship," Ian Stewart, SVP, Viacom Brand Solutions and MTV Networks, told Marketing, and said the company is getting itself heard via the research it does in youth trends.
"Probably the biggest initiative last year that has got us ready for this yr was getting out across the region to share our insights and research under an initiative called OpenSource, and we saw our research was being used across industries as key benchmarks to understanding young people in Asia."
Stewart explained the presentations MTV made on the research were uploaded onto the internet and the one on key trends for 2008 is one of the most downloaded presentations in Singapore, with 12 to 13,000 people downloading it so far.
"Based on the research, we're taking MTV across the region back to music. The Singapore channel is back to 80% music, we rationalised down our popular non-music shows to a few like Pimp My Ride and Punked. We're taking it back to music across our channels and also in our marketing of concerts and events, reengaging the record labels," he said.
One of the latest client-branded initiatives MTV has launched was MTV Music Revolution, a weekly programme sponsored by Sony Ericsson featuring the latest music videos from a variety of genres, and which allows viewers to vote for their favourite videos.
The channel is also steering towards showing reality-based programming, not reality-TV, such as behind the scenes footage from the MTV Music Awards, on the red carpet interviews and documentary footage about celebrities - content which is available on Viacom's VH1.
Another main thrust of the channel's business this year is offering a more digital centric business solution leveraging on the company's numerous web properties as well as other sites like Baidu in China and Cyworld in Korea.
In January, Stewart says, MTV launched a TV solution in Asia which involves selling its programmes to terrestrial television.
"That's something we never explored in Asia because we were just growing. We have a catalogue of 700 over shows we own and we're not just a TV destination - we're a content provider like Discovery or National Geographic. We own the content so we can take Spongebob to Thai terrestrial TV or Pimp My Ride to Malaysian terrestrial TV," he says.
MTV also cleared the rights to air about 40 of the shows it owns such as Laguna Beach and Pimp My Ride for the web, and is building new applications called widgets so people may watch the shows off its website or off sites such as Baidu, Cyworld or Facebook.
"The revenue model is to brand the widget. In the US we built widgets in the shape of a hamburger and before you get to the content you can run ads. People are happy to watch an ad if they're getting the content for free," he says.
However, telecommunications companies are proving resistant to the idea of allowing such content to run on Singapore mobile screens despite "telcos around the world being desperate for content", as deciding how to price content which is available free on YouTube is a major factor.
"Our big conclusion for this year is young people don't need another dot com built for them because they don't have the time to go to another website. They're spending lots of time in Facebook and MySpace and MSN and that's where we need to deliver the content," Stewart says.
[Box out 1]
88% of Chinese youth prefer music from China
85% of Indian youth prefer music from India
80% of Korean youth prefer music from Korea
87% of Thai youth prefer music from Thailand
92% of Indonesian youth prefer music from Indonesia
Our rule of thumb is that 80% of preference is for local language music and other content
Source: MTV Music Matters Research. April 2007. 15-34 in 10 Countries. Synovate.
[Box out 2]
10 Key Traits of the Digital Generation
1. They don't notice the ‘technology' around them
2. They have more tools to help them through adolescence
3. Males chat more than in the past - catching up with females
4. Their desire for connection drives most digital behaviour
5. Much of their surfing is random and unstructured
6. More watching than creating content
7. Their friendships are deeper and more meaningful
8. Media has become social currency - if it isn't worth sending on, is it worth anything at all?
9. Parents pro-technology for safety and success reasons - but are being circumvented
10. They can access everything (music, friends, info, entertainment)
[Box out 3]
Time magazine says
The "1% Rule": Usage research on sites like YouTube and Wikipedia show that 1% or less of all site users are uploading content, 10% or less are interactively posting comments, and 90% are happy just to watch and be entertained. User generated content: not everyone is uploading, despite popular opinion. And doesn't this trend sound like television anyway?
- Discovery Networks Asia
- MTV Networks Asia
- National Geographic Channel
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