Viacom’s MTV targets mobile phone content

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Viacom’s MTV Networks has created a new centralised group to increase its participation in the mobile phone business.

The so-called Mobile Media Group will be responsible for developing ringtones, games, videos and other content from its various brands for supply to mobile phone carriers.

It will co-ordinate the mobile activities within MTV Networks’ various cable channels and among its domestic and international operations.

The reorganisation reflects the high priority that MTV Networks is placing on the category as it tries to grow its digital business.

In the past, the youth-oriented company has been criticised for its tentative embrace of social networking, user-generated content and other new media phenomenon.

Its executives are keen to master the emerging mobile business because research shows that their young audience is already spending considerable time on their mobile phones.

The division’s television networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, also specialise in the sort of short-form content that has been most popular on the small screen.

“Connecting with our consumers on every platform they love is at the heart of our digital strategy,” said Judy McGrath, chief executive of MTV Networks.

MTV’s push reflects a broader realisation among traditional media companies that mobile phone services could form an important component of evolving digital businesses.

At the same time, mobile phone carriers, such as Verizon and Cingular, are looking to new data services, such as games and video content, as a way to offset the pressure on their traditional voice revenue.

MTV has deals in place with all the big carriers and claims to be the leading supplier of video content to mobile phone carriers – publishing more than 600 clips and 30 hours per month in the US.

It is particularly excited about the multimedia possibilities of a new service, Mobile Junk 2.0, that it is launching with Sprint, in which user- generated content from the internet will be beamed to customers’ phones.

Those customers can use their phones to vote for their favourite clips, which will be broadcast on the company’s TV networks.

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