Norman: 'You're Too Late' for Broadband, Wireless

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New York -- If you’re just starting to figure out how to move your programming and services onto broadband and wireless channels of distribution, “you’re too late,” MTV president Christina Norman said Tuesday morning.

Americans of all stripes between the ages of 12-34 “are done asking for these things,” she said at the Seventh Annual Forum on Multicultural Media for Multicultural America here, sponsored by market researchers Horowitz Associates. “Now, they simply expect it.”

Norman said MTV experienced “explosive growth” in its efforts to put content into new digital forms. Half a million users signed up so far to create avatars -- online persona -- in its broadband worlds supporting its Laguna Beach and Pimp My Ride series. So far, 55 million minutes have been logged on the virtual beaches and hills, she said.

On "conventional” television, MTV, she added, still was far outreaching the darling of online video, YouTube. Speaking at the Hilton New York, she said MTV and its sister channels had 90 million total viewers in January. That, she added, was three times the total viewership of YouTube in December.

YouTube has claimed that it delivers more than 100 million video streams per day, but that is to all viewers, who view multiple, different streams.

Key to using online and wireless channels in combination with television is to “enhance the experience, not be the experience,” Norman said. That means giving viewers “unfiltered” access to events, stars -- and each other.

“Be open to dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue,” she added. “There is no such thing as too much input from your audience.” And putting experiences and power in their hands has to be genuine, she said, adding, “You can’t fake the funk.”

One way MTV will try to use both traditional and new forms of communication will be to relaunch boy band Menudo, first formed in Puerto Rico in 1977 and continuing in various forms since.

According to blog Vivirlatino, the search for a new set of band members, between the ages of 15-19, began last fall and will unfold on MTV Tr3s, MTV’s channel aimed at young Latino viewers. A Road to Menudo special is planned before a new TV series, on MTV, debuts. Harkening back to the street start of Menudo three decades ago, the auditions began at an arena in Puerto Rico.

That shows how language, content, culture and media can come together, Norman said, in a multiplatform, multicultural world. But, she cautioned, “the thing is that there really is no master playbook.”

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