MTV's Norman Stresses Ideas Over Technology

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New York -- Throwing down at Nokia Theater here Tuesday, MTV offered executives and advertisers a sneak peak at its game plan for 2007.

“There’s this misconception out that there that what’s next is defined by technology,”

MTV president Christina Norman

 said. “But I think that kind of misses the point. Technology has no doubt had a seismic impact on the media landscape, but as we’ve all rushed to become multiplatform, I think we’ve sometimes lost sight of what fuels these new technologies and screens. It’s ideas. What good is a 3G [third-generation] phone with nothing to watch?”

She stressed that MTV would continue leveraging technology but would remain content-driven: “We didn’t buy MySpace and we didn’t buy YouTube -- we’re not a technology company," she added. "We are at our heart a great creative programmer.”

As for new content in the coming year, Norman touted the up-and-coming Housebroken, a reality series debuting this summer that features recently-dumped 20-somethings, and The Kentucky Kid, a motorcycle-racing series airing this fall based on racer Nicky Hayden.

Also in the near lineup is I Remember Chloe, a scripted live-action micro-series, airing in 30 four-minute segments on every MTVN screen.

These shows join recent offerings Kaya, Taquita and Kaui, Scarred and the exclusive-to-mobile dance show Dances from the Hood. MTV Tr3s will also continue MiTRL, the weekly interactive showcase for videos and celebrities targeting a young Latino audience.

Recycling old materials, the network will try to increase the value of repeats, producing custom remixed versions with added text-messaging, viewer comments and never-before-seen footage.

On the advertising front, MTV is plugging new efforts at more integrated marketing. One example: “pod takeovers,” an option allowing a company to buy out an entire commercial break block, which can be used to thread together advertisements within a specific program or time period.

Norman said another promising outlet is virtual worlds. After experimentation with a Laguna Beachvirtual world, MTV took The Hills to the next level, offering fans the opportunity to create an avatar and enter the world.

“They wanted to live in The Hills, literally,” said Norman. “The 650,000 people who’ve registered for our virtual world have spent an average of 40 minutes per visit. They drank thousands of cans of virtual Pepsi and they earned points that got them cool Pepsi gear that they proudly flaunted in-world.”

She said the advertising possibilities were endless, including virtual movie premieres, test drives, makeup and hairstyling and dining out.

The network has also begun offering product integration opportunities on shows, such as a plug for Doritos in sketch comedy show Human Giant; for The Gap in dance-oriented reality show DanceLife; and for EA Sports Xbox360 game “Skate” in reality comedy series Rob & Big.

Norman said to look for more announcements in the coming weeks regarding efforts surrounding the MTV Movie Awards and Video Music Awards.

In attendance at Tuesday’s upfront: rappers DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three Six Mafia; Taquita and Kaui stars Taquita and Kaui; Human Giant stars Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer; and college-music group Gym Class Heroes, which performed.

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