MTVN To Seek TNN, CMT Rate Hikes: Browning

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NEW YORK -MTV Networks' Nicole Browning-promoted last week to the new post of president of affiliate sales and marketing-said she'll concentrate heavily on TNN: The National Network and Country Music Television.

That will include seeking affiliate rate hikes for the two networks, which were just added to her portfolio.

"One major focus in the upcoming year will be on reinventing and reestablishing TNN among distributors and consumers," she said last Thursday. That's also the case with CMT, though to a lesser degree.

MTVN parent Viacom acquired both networks through its acquisition of CBS Corp.

Generally speaking, she said, MTVN will look to "get distribution [for its various analog and digital networks] and getting the appropriate rates from affiliates."

But she wouldn't say exactly when MTVN might start seeking higher rates for its freshly acquired networks.

"There is no scheduled rate increase per se," she said. Rather, increases will be pursued "where appropriate, according to individual operator deals."

MTVN's distribution to-do list will also be focused on "continuing to grow TV Land." She projected the network would finish 2000 with 55 million homes and should top 60 million subscribers a year from now.

"MTV2 is also a huge priority," she said, noting that the fledgling all-music-video service now is in nearly 20 million homes. She is eyeing 30 million homes in the year to come, a figure that should attract major national advertiser support.

Browning-who has been at MTVN since 1986 and rose to executive vice president in fall 1996-said digital-cable distribution growth will be increasingly important in the long term. That's the case for both MTVN's "The Suite" and its individual diginets.

MTVN's "biggest challenge," she said, will be "trying to figure out the best way to participate with affiliates" in various new technological advances. Interactive-TV partnerships with operators will be particularly crucial, she said.

Browning described digital as "a very good little business" and said MTVN is "pleased we stepped forward so early."

Digital growth is now accelerating, she said, and VH1 Classic is now in about 1.5 million homes. But she declined to give a figure for The Suite, since it's just "starting to roll out in its entirety."

On the local ad-sales front, MTVN has said that MTV: Music Television's Video Music Awards,Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards
and Nick's "Costumed Characters Tour" have generated the most ad revenues for its affiliates-each above the $2 million mark. She said both VH1 and TNN have "huge potential," particularly the latter. That's due to its World Wrestling Federation programming and Star Trek
series.

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