Paras Sharma
Aug 18, 2014

How MTV connects, curates and creates with millennials

Paras Sharma, vice president in charge of the MTV & Comedy Central brands for Viacom, explains the company's formula for success in Malaysia and beyond.

Paras Sharma
Paras Sharma

Millennials in Malaysia, like anywhere else across the globe, are no longer passive consumers of content on linear TV, they are consuming it across devices and platforms; engaging with content in newer ways; creating their own content; and curating and recommending it. Therefore, brand opportunities arise across content creation, content delivery, content promotion and content sales.

Staying relevant with youth audiences (whom we refer to as millennials) means being talked about, being at the heart of pop culture conversations, reflecting and celebrating young lives the world over and making content available to view, share and talk about across platforms.

Some of the key drivers and trends for the Malaysia market include:

TV remains a very strong first screen

Total TV, and especially total cable TV, viewership in Malaysia increased last year compared to the year before. For MTV, our ratings also jumped over the previous year. We had 6 out of top 20 programs among all channels in our target group and this competitive class includes other channels that are in the basic package on cable. This shows how well our channel is placed in the market and also how strong the youth segment is.

Online content consumption is on the rise

With around 60 per cent internet penetration and close to 35 per cent smartphone penetration, Malaysia is a key market in Asia when it comes to online content consumption - especially the 15-24 age group, which forms close to 40 per cent of audiences consuming online video . This opens opportunities to deliver content to our audience base through digital offerings. Our website is a non-linear experience with curated content covering different genres and formats including editorial, news, video (music & entertainment shows), music specials and exclusives. MTV recently did an exclusive LIVE streaming of an Arianna Grande performance and Malaysia was among the top 10 countries globally in terms of views.

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Social conversations outweigh real world chatter

Malaysia is one of the leading social countries in the region with a very strong social audience base and high engagement rates. We fully recognize that and our music-based shows are more social than ever! Earlier this month, we launched Your MTV Top 20, aiming to be the world’s most comprehensive weekly music video chart and the only one ultimately determined by fan interaction via social and digital media. Malaysia was among the top 21 countries globally in terms of engagement. Other evidence of the country’s high social engagement includes our signature weekly show, The MTV Show. A new segment helmed by VJ Hanli asks viewers to submit questions, talking points or trending topics for discussion via social platforms and receives very strong traction. 

Participants: not just audience

Youth in Malaysia, like millennials across the globe, want to play a more active role in the way they consume content and we fully recognize it and therefore continue to work towards giving fans opportunities to realize dreams and potential by creating multiple unique platforms. Dare To Be An MTV VJ, a collaboration with Acuvue’s Dare To Be, campaign, gives Asia’s youth an opportunity to pursue their passions. At last year’s MTV World Stage Malaysia, we launched the hunt for the first MTV World Stage Insider where one audience member got to be part of the MTV social media team, to represent fans and introduce them to the MTV Experience from the inside, via regular real-time updates, videos, tweets and pictures along with an engagement fee worth US$10,000. The campaign drove engagement and will run again for a second year.

Experience more important than material possessions

MTV uses social media as a platform to create new content and what we have found is millennials around the world, as well as in Malaysia, place a huge importance on experiences money can’t buy. Therefore we create multiple opportunities through events and initiatives. Now in its 6th year, MTV World Stage Malaysia is a major investment that has become a signature event. Over 15,000 fans get a chance to be a part of a unique experience featuring top international, regional and local acts.

When consumer insights trigger content ideation, and the development meets technology, the result is an unmatchable experience. MTV’s aim is to continue learning from our audience and to adopt new and emerging media technologies. That allows us to create relevant experiences for our young audience and unique solutions for our business partners. With Malaysia rightly poised for rapid growth with a strong audience base, it’s an exciting time to be in our business, and even better time to be a fan.

Paras Sharma is vice president, MTV & Comedy Central brands and digital media, Viacom International Media Networks Asia


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