MTV Wants Complete Experience
As a brand mainly targeting a youthful audience, MTV Networks International (MTVNI) has to be at the cutting edge of new technologies and ideas to reach an ever more demanding audience. The company always looks to expand into new markets as well as bring its HD offering to more households. Bhavneet Singh, executive vice president and managing director of the broadcaster’s emerging markets group, discusses MTV’s international aspirations.
VIA SATELLITE: Have advertising revenues recovered?
Singh: The global economic downturn has impacted all markets in all countries. I don’t know anyone who has been spared. Some markets have recovered very quickly, like India, where the growth went from double digits to single digits and then came back. Conversely, there are markets like Russia where advertising revenues fell off the cliff for a while. It was only at the end of [the second quarter] and the beginning of [the third quarter] in 2009 that we began to see some momentum coming back. The outlook looks positive and it seems as though things are going in the right direction, but I would say it is still too early to call.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the main growth drivers for your business?
Singh: Our content and brands play very well across multiple platforms whether in traditional or non-traditional media spaces. There are also off-air opportunities such as events and merchandising. We are getting people to live and breathe our brands, and that has been tremendously good for us. We are building critical mass with our brands in priority markets, extending them across different platforms so as to broaden our offerings both in terms of depth and width. We want to create 360 degree experiences so that our users can navigate and move across platforms and feel and touch our brands in a seamless manner, whether broadband, mobile or IP downloads. Furthermore, we want to build on our successes. We have the second biggest thematic portfolio in Poland, and our India business is growing rapidly. For example, we launched a Hindi general entertainment channel called Colors in India 18 months ago. The channel is already number one in its category, and we have just launched it in the United Kingdom and United States, too. And in addition to all this, we have to be aware of bespoke opportunities that arise in our markets; so, for example, we are looking at some interesting opportunities in Poland, Russia and Africa.
VIA SATELLITE: What is the outlook for HD in 2010?
Singh: We initially launched MTVNHD across six international markets, and in the space of 18 months we have extended the service to 22 markets reaching 5 million households. This is an incredible achievement and testament to the quality of the service, and we have had good feedback from all operators we have worked with. The service is going from strength to strength, and you will see more from us in terms of HD. We have one HD service right now, and we hope to further extend MTVNHD to at least 10 more markets this year before we roll out more services.
VIA SATELLITE: Will you need more satellite capacity?
Singh: We are always trying to figure out the best way, both from an experience point of view and a cost point of view, to get to consumers. In some markets, fiber is the main method of delivery, whilst other markets follow the traditional path of satellite. Down the line we will need more satellite capacity, but that will be on a case-by-case and a market-by-market basis. HD could be a driver for more capacity. Bandwidth requirements are much more complex when you look at HD, so with the possibility of adding more HD services, as well as bringing MTVNHD to more markets, we will need more capacity.
VIA SATELLITE: Where do you hope to position MTV Networks International in the broadcast landscape?
Singh: One of the issues for us is moving from a television organization to a content organization and linked to that, moving from treating our viewers as end users. The more we do that, the more we will be successful in what we are trying to achieve. As the landscape continues to fragment, our quality content will continue to be pushed across all platforms to service the needs of our users.