McGrath’s MTVN Is 'Hunting’ Consumers

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Boston— During her keynote address last Tuesday at the CTAM Summit, 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,” said McGrath. “But we figured back then if they could, people would want to take their MTV with them. So now they can, with all 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 Inc.’s MTVN, which has been reorganized to place digital content alongside linear TV production.

The impetus: Consumers are seeking media on an array of platforms and 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 said that from March to 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 in the past that when a parent sent a kid to his or her room it was a punishment: “Now, it’s the center of a personal ecosystem.”

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

McGrath said that migration of media is also important to advertisers. “Today, consumers are not targeted, but hunted and snared, individually and collectively” 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 BusinessWeek senior editor Tom Lowry’s question during an on-stage interview, cited user-generated video and YouTube as the media business’ biggest game-changers of the past six months.

After the presentation, in a meeting with reporters, McGrath 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, though, 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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