MTV’s audience in the US is on the slide, but Robert Bakish, president and CEO of parent company Viacom International Media Networks, says the 32 year-old network’s future growth lies in tapping into the potential of emerging markets such as the Middle East
Despite these claims, Viacom’s CEO Philippe Dauman moved to assure analysts in November that MTV is “not broken” and said the network was still “highly successful” among its core audience and he has “no concerns about MTV’s vitality going forward.” As evidence, Dauman said its latest show — a reality programme about dating online called ‘Catfish: The TV Show’ — was the channel’s most successful launch ever.
Viacom’s latest quarterly results show advertising across the media networks rose 5 percent in the year ended 30 September 2012, while revenue for the sector was stable and only up 1 percent to $9.194bn across the same time period.
Bakish has worked for Viacom since 1997 in a variety of roles since joining the entertainment giant, which in 2010 was the world’s fifth-largest media conglomerate after The Walt Disney Company, Comcast, Time Warner and News Corporation. His division, Viacom International Media Networks, consists of 145 TV channels in 160 countries and territories.
His promotion in 2011, from his previous position as president of MTV Networks International, is a clear sign of the company’s drive to focus on expansion into new emerging markets as its more mature US home market begins to age.
Following the launch of MTV Europe in 1987, subsequent versions were rolled out in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa and Russia. As the network passed its silver anniversary, MTV Arabia was launched in 2007 in conjunction with Arabian Television Network, a subsidiary of Arab Media Group, the largest media group in the United Arab Emirates. Airing on the Nilesat satellite channel, the station planned to target an audience of 190 million from its base in Dubai.
“Unfortunately, today the Middle East business is a small business,” Bakish concedes. “But if you look at the demographics here it has extraordinary potential.”
MTV Arabia was rebranded as MTV Middle East in August 2011 and, the following December, a Middle East support website was launched, which allowed viewers to request music videos, vote for artists and watch live performances. The site was available in English and Arabic and is hoping to bolster its popularity among the region’s booming youth population.
A clear example of the potential for the brand in developing markets can be seen in the network’s experience in India.
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