McGrath Has MTVN on the Go

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Boston -- During her keynote address Tuesday at the CTAM Summit here, MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath showed an old commercial of a roller-skater carrying a TV on her shoulder, jokingly touting “MTV to go.”

“I can’t believe we actually did that promo,” she added. “So now it’s true -- they can with all of the new platforms.”

Indeed, McGrath -- who was awarded the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s Grand Tam Award -- spoke about the “everywhere” world philosophy enveloping Viacom’s MTVN, which has been reorganized to place digital content alongside linear TV productions.

The impetus: Consumers are seeking media on an array of platforms, and they will follow good content across different platforms.

“New technology has inspired new consumer behavior, unleashing pent-up demand … You have to evolve or die. Those are the stakes,” she said, noting that cable operators are playing a key role in giving users access to this universe with their high-speed products.

McGrath added that from March-April, there was a 40% increase in the number of streams against MTVN’s various broadband sites. She also pointed to a change in social behavior, saying that in the past, when a parent sent a kid to his or her room, it was a punishment. “Now, it’s the center of a personal ecosystem,” she added.

Therein, McGrath said, young people are engaged in digital doings to that extent that 57% will create content for the Internet, either through text, pictures or video; they spend up to three hours per day on the Web; nine out of 10 use the Web to help them with homework; and two-thirds of them e-mail constantly. She also noted that the number of cellular-phone users aged 8-11 has doubled.

McGrath added that migration of media is also important to advertisers. “Today, consumers are not targeted, but hunted and snared,” she said, adding that MTVN’s far-reaching advertising deal with OMD included components touching such properties as iFILM, Neopets, XFire, Motherload and MTV Uber.

McGrath, in response to Business Week senior editor Tom Lowry’s question during an on-stage interview, cited user-generated video and YouTube.com (www.youtube.com) as the biggest game-changers of the past six months in the media business.

After the presentation, in a meeting with reporters, McGrath elaborated.

“YouTube, it really caught fire. We’re looking at globally lots of opportunities to launch something like YouTube because video is where we have expertise. So now that video is playing more of an important role on the Web, it feels like a good time for our company,” she said.

“I would say that we’re both looking at acquisitions, and we’re builders, and you’re going to see that more and more on all of the properties we have or will launch,” she added. “That will be like the new definition of social networking -- posting videos.”

McGrath also said the debut of new broadband channels aimed at baby boomers would be launched “momentarily.” (On stage, she said the rollouts would occur in several weeks.) Initially, those services -- being shepherded by MTVN president of network development John Sykes -- were expected to bow as TV channels. Now, however, McGrath said, the plan calls for the services to bow simultaneously, but she would not elaborate on how much content would be available on linear TV.

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