Instead of traditional TV ads and interstitial programming, if you switch on MTV Asia today you may start to see some new hyper-visual pieces of content created by people at home, using their social-media channels.
The MTV revamp, which has already been rolled out in other global markets, activates in Asia as of today. As part of the global rebrand, MTV has partnered with B-Reel Creative to connect the Internet to the network’s broadcast system, allowing Instagram or Vine videos shared with #MTVbump to be broadcast on-air in as little as two hours. MTV claims that no other channel is broadcasting user-generated content in such a way.
As part of the rebrand, MTV Asia will collect user-generated videos using a custom content management system (CMS) that allows MTV teams to curate the content, filtering for local relevance, pop-culture topicality or number of fans, and then schedule it on-air and across platforms.
“When it says ‘I am my MTV’, it promises that the MTV brand will now be a reflection of you as a millennial," Paras Sharma, vice president at MTV, Comedy Central & Digital Media (Asia) at Viacom International Media Networks, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "The brand will enable you to project what you are, and therefore MTV as an organisation needs to deliver that in various ways and means."
MTV went on air for the first time, on 1 August 1981, with a music video for The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Whilst the channel went on revolutise the music industry, more or less invented the reality-TV genre and become an influential source of pop culture, the brand has struggled in recent years, with TV audiences in decline, as well as music video competitors like Vevo and YouTube becoming leaders in online music-video streaming.
MTV's original broadcast in 1981
“MTV has always been committed to reinvention, and it’s time to shed our skin and reinvent again,” said Kerry Taylor, head of MTV International and chief marketing officer of Viacom International Media Networks UK, in a press release. “Our audience expects MTV to push boundaries and take creative risks, and we truly believe that with this rebrand MTV’s international channels will look like nothing else.”
Sharma emphasised the importance of MTV—which describes itself as the ‘cultural home of the millennial generation’—to connect with this key audience. Sharma points out that this generation makes up one third of the world’s population, netting out at 2.5 billion globally, with buying power said to be around US$907 billion in Asia. By 2020, Sharma says, Asia will be home to 60 per cent of the world’s millennial population.
“With stats like these, there’s no question that the success of our business is dependent on the connection we keep making with this generation,” Sharma said. “The group of people in that millennial age group come and leave, but the brand continues to be loyal to the people who are at any point of time within that age group.”
Despite reporting solid TV ratings across Asian markets—after experimenting with new programming to reflect audience interest (including new food-based show with an MTV spin)—Sharma said the MTV rebrand will have a big emphasis on digital and social media.
Sample of #MTVBump submission
The content teams now make shows work across platforms from the word 'go'.
“It has to be platform agnostic,” Sharma said. “We think of it as content, not as a TV show. This content has to come on television, has to come on the website, it has to come on Instagram. Therefore we now create content pieces for all these platforms—not thinking in the traditional way of a TV show.
“So it has to be shot differently. It has to be shot separately because you are creating content for multiple platforms. So that’s the key direction in terms of the content and with the local production."
He said the rebrand, and MTV’s strategy in Asia, is less about recapturing TV audiences and more about reaching millennials across all their media devices. There are certain shows, he said, which some may not watch on television at all, and therefore the best place to broadcast is on the MTV website.
While many have questioned the brand's relevance in recent years, the network claims to reach 785 million households in over 160 countries across 32 languages. It also claims 304 million social fans.
Its live events, including the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), are still considered some of the biggest live music properties in the world. Just last week, global superstar Taylor Swift shared a snippet of her latest music video on her Instagram page and told her 43.7 million followers that its full-length premiere would happen during the VMAs pre-show.
Live events are a big part of MTV engagement with audiences in Asia. In May this year, MTV Music Evolution marked its first edition, held in the Philippines. The event in Manila was broadcast to more than 160 countries and received close to 10,000 videos and Instagram image posts—reaching a far wider audience than the crowd in attendance.
“It’s incorrect to say that younger people are consuming less content, they’re consuming more content than ever," Sharma said. "The content is not what comes on TV; the content is what we watch or what we engage with. It could be a show on the TV; it could be a piece of bite-sized content on a smartphone. Therefore MTV’s pursuit is that we create content for all these platforms.”