When one thinks of MTV, the adjectives that instantly spring to mind are ‘edgy’, ‘irreverent’ and ‘self-expressive’. So when meeting someone from MTVNI (MTV Networks International), part of media giant Viacom, one tends to assume the adjectives apply to the person as well.
In this part of the world, India and China are the two countries that typically get associated with the term ‘emerging markets’. The nomenclature comprises a vastly different expanse also — Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. And though popular belief has it that working in India and China adds weight to the resume. Working in the other emerging markets can also prove to be as fruitful. One of the youngest EVPs in the network, handling some of the fastest growing and profitable markets for MVNI. With 25 television channels, 23 websites, two broadband channels and three mobile TV channels under his purview, and the direct responsibility for brands like MTV, Nickelodeon, VIVA, Comedy Central and VH1, he is virtually king of all he surveys. They are giving him a chance to satiate the “entrepreneurial” fire inside him. He always wanted to run a business and they gave him the emerging markets.
The young EVP’s current stint doesn’t involve handling India, the experience he’d picked up earlier in India is definitely coming in handy. For instance, speaking of ‘countries within a country’, he cites the example of Poland. It’s a dynamic culture with strong and distinct imprints of pop culture, drama and television. It’s almost like the Tamil market, which is a sub-market within India. So from two channels, MTV and VIVA in 2006, the network now has all the five channels in Poland. Similarly, in the Baltics, MTVNI has three different feeds for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They may each have small populations but are different from one another. Given the diversity of the markets, it was important to understand how consumers consume content. The concerned has to stop thinking like a television organisation and behave more like a content organisation. If a user wants it on mobile, we have to provide content on mobile. The network launched MTV Israel via the broadband channel instead of launching it on an existing TV platform. The reason — Israel is called the South Korea of the Middle East, with around 70%-75% internet connectivity.
One of the challenges, was the foray into the Middle East. With a 200-million audience for brands like MTV, it was the proverbial last bastion. All indicators today reflect that MTVNI has been successful with the seven-month-old MTV doing well. The Middle East is culturally similar to India in terms of human factor, hospitality and emphasis on relationships. In the Middle East, one has to break bread with the partner before doing business. Interestingly, in the run up to the launch of the channel, more people in the Middle East perceived MTV as an Indian brand than as a brand from the UK. A function of good work done by MTV India. The work by MTV India created a positive vibe. And the thought that it was an Indian brand gave the confidence that MTV is looked upon as a global channel. Ten months of research across seven-eight gulf countries helped establish there was pull for the brands. There is a demand and need for our offering, and there is a high degree of recognition.
MTVN’s emphasis on various media platforms like broadband, mobile and online is rooted in the fact that consumers today have multiple options to consume content and they exercise those options. Media fragmentation is real and here to stay. The future is already here. Its just that the platforms are not evenly distributed to consumers right now. People are consuming more media today than ever before through TV, gaming, the internet and mobile.