Television

MTV looks to stay ahead of digital curve in India

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MUMBAI: Even as the big media companies gather their forces for the upcoming battles for mind share in the new digital world, each are going about it in different ways. The aim is common to all of them though - multiplatform strategies of building an engaging universe of music, gaming, entertainment, news and interactivity for targeted audiences.

And, while India may not be where the major digital battles are fought any time in the near future, MTV for one is attempting to stay ahead of the curve and preparing for more change by introducing new mobile and online services for the ‘networked generation’.

For MTV Networks International senior vice president (digital media) Gideon Bierer, with opportunities unfolding, the country is approaching an inflexion point as regards the digital content delivery story. Bierer believes that new digital services will begin to be introduced in a significant way from next year on but it could take anywhere between three to five years for it to get serious penetration in India.

Queried about revenue streams, Bierer said that like in television subscriptions and advertising would form the main component and digital services also offered revenue opportunities through transactions.

For MTV, the aim is clearly to be the first mover in the digital space and helping it respond to changing tastes and compete with the internet and downloading could be channels like Flux, where the schedule is driven by the public. Flux, the multi-platform social-networking digital service originated by MTV Networks International in Japan last June, is launching in the UK & Ireland markets on 6 September. It is also being introduced in Italy around the same time.

Flux is positioned as a digital community and content integrated youth service that enables viewers to access short videos and music through their mobiles or computers, make recommendations to others and provide feedback. The channel will be aiming to attract the key 13 to 34-year-old demographic.

There is also the hybrid channel MTV Overdrive launched last April. Available through mtv.com, the initiative is aimed at entertaining viewers with both a linear viewing experience and video on demand capabilities in one web-based application. MTV Overdrive's lineup features news, music, on tv and movies among the services it offers.

Now while all this sounds very nice, what a certain Rupert Murdoch would have to say about all this remains to be seen. For in the west where the digital skirmishes are already on in full swing, it is News Corp's Myspace that is creating the most frenzy among the demographic that MTV has "owned" for nigh on 25 years. In India, only time will tell whether MTV is able to square up to the Star juggernaught, which has already declared aggressive intent in this domain.

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