MTV's Revised Site: A Concert of Convergence

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MTV: Music Television hopes its newly revamped Web site will serve as a one-stop, all-access destination for young, technology-savvy music fans.

The enhanced site — set to launch today (Aug.13) — is the main cog in MTV's "360" concept, which links programming information from sister cable networks MTV and MTV2 with the Web site's interactive elements, said MTV Interactive president and CEO Nicholas Butterworth.

Butterworth expects MTV.com's enhanced features, including instant messaging, to be a popular draw for Internet users, as well as a promotional tool for operators that sell cable modems. MTV.com is already the second most-visited music Web site behind the recently watered down Napster Inc., according to Jupiter Communications Media Metrix data.

MTV.com executives would not disclose how much was spent to refurbish the site, but noted that the costs would be amortized across Web sites for other MTV Networks properties, including VH1 and CMT: Country Music Television.

The site will eventually offer an area known as the "Broadband Zone" that focuses on the advantages of cable modems. Users can type in a ZIP code to determine which operators in their area offer broadband service, MTV.com general manger Ellie Hirschhorn said.

"I think the cable and the Web were made for each other," Butterworth added. "It's tailor-made for operators in their efforts for high-speed modem sales."

The network will begin to build awareness for the site with a marketing campaign on both MTV and MTV2, according to Hirschhorn.

By emphasizing the latest in interactive technology while attempting to create a "community" feel among music lovers, MTV.com will enable fans to meet, express opinions and share interests through a number of new applications.

Butterworth said MTV's typical, core 12-to-24-year-old viewer is often watching the network, using the Internet and talking on the phone to a friend simultaneously — a phenomenon that will continue rather than dissipate as those viewers get older.

"Our consumers are adept at multi-tasking, and the shift away from just watching the television is a permanent one," Butterworth said. "We're uniquely suited to take advantage of that shift."

Each Web page includes a link to MTV or MTV2, which not only allows users to see the respective networks' schedule listings, but also affords access to additional information or features on a particular show, Hirschhorn said.

MTV.com, however, will not provide live video streaming on the site from either channel.

"We have no plans to do long-form video streaming," Butterworth said. "The economics right now are not viable to do long-form programming on the Internet.

"We're trying to use MTV.com to add something new, not to repurpose programming from MTV or MTV2."

Butterworth also said the site would offer electronic-commerce opportunities related to CD and premium purchases. MTV also plans to distribute song downloads from the site, and has reached downloading-rights agreements with the top five labels. But thus far, the record companies have not made much product available for sale, according to Butterworth.

Fans of a particular group or performer can access a page dedicated to that artist, which would provide access to the latest news, snippets of videos or MTV performances for download and exclusive interviews, biographies or other pertinent information.

The page would also feature a list of other visitors, so the user can find other fans with similar interests and deploy the new communication features like instant messaging and electronic mail, Butterworth said.

Users can also link to 30 to 50 different Internet-based radio stations.

The new MTV.com also features redesigned areas for such convergence programs and events as MTV2's Control Freak, the upcoming 2001 Video Music Awards
and fan-favorite Total Request Live, making it easier for viewers to interact with those shows, Butterworth said.

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