MTV Gives Shows Online Bonus

Jul 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Building on the broadband momentum Viacom has been assembling over the past few weeks, MTV greenlighted new broadband companion programs for cable series “Laguna Beach,” to debut later this month, and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet II,” which premieres in October.

The online shows are dubbed “after shows” and the new pair represents MTV’s efforts to create an after show brand for the original companion content it produces for its broadband platform, known as MTV Overdrive, which went live in April.

In related news, Bravo plans to simulcast the first hour of its new “Situation Comedy” show online when it debuts July 26.

The MTV online shows are more than just adjunct content on the Web site. Each ad-supported after show runs about 20 minutes in length and comprises original content that doesn’t run on-air. Whereas other broadband content for MTV’s shows is similar to DVD extras-featuring highlights, unseen moments and extended interviews-the after shows are new shows and are built like TV programs.

They even have their own names. “Laguna Beach: The After Show” premieres July 25 and runs through mid-October, parallel with the show; “Gauntlet 2: The After Show” starts in October and runs through January. New after shows debut weekly immediately after the on-air episodes.

They are part of a larger broadband push at the network, which intends to begin promoting MTV Overdrive on-air starting this month. Viacom as a company has been systematically engaging in new broadband initiatives over the past few months. Earlier this month Nickelodeon introduced TurboNick, its broadband platform that offers up to 20 hours of new programming each week, including full-length series online, while VH1 debuted VSpot and premiered online the first episode of “The Surreal Life 5” before its on-air premiere.

The after shows inform the ethos of MTV’s broadband channel. “For shows that have a real emotional connection, a recap or preview online isn’t of much value,” said Jason Hirschhorn, senior VP of digital music and media for MTV Networks. The new programs will have much more. “Laguna Beach: The After Show,” for instance, will develop some of the stories that didn’t make it on-air and will focus on characters that don’t get as much airtime as others, creating an extended version of the show with new and fresh content online, he said. The companion shows also will include interviews with cast members.

After show advertisers include Pepsi, Fossil, Warner Bros. Home Video, CIBA Vision and others.

MTV will promote the availability of the after shows on-air, but Mr. Hirschhorn said he isn’t concerned about driving viewers to broadband at the expense of the linear network. That’s because 64 percent of MTV viewers have a computer in the same room as the TV, and the two services have co-existed nicely so far, with viewership strong on each.

The first broadband companion program, “Inferno 2: The After Show” was the most popular program on MTV Overdrive in April and May when it ran on the broadband channel, generating more than 3 million streams served. The full season of the show “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Inferno II” on-air was watched by more than 87 million viewers, including the premieres and repeat showings. It ranked tops during its run in the Monday 10 p.m. time period among people 12 to 34 in the cable universe, with an 11 percent rise in that demo from the previous season, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was also the most-watched show among people 12 to 17 across the entire TV universe, according to MTV.

Mr. Hirschhorn has grand plans for MTV Overdrive and envisions it as the eventual interface for MTV’s VOD and wireless content. “The interface is cool,” he said. “As this video moves into VOD and wireless, we want to bring along this entire entertainment experience.” Later this year MTV plans to launch MTV Overdrive on the Microsoft Media Center, where it will be the interface for MTV’s VOD service, he said.

“You will see Overdrive expand into other platforms,” he said. MTV Overdrive also will serve as the basis for similar broadband channels for Comedy Central and Spike TV.

Online Reality Promising

Online reality show content has driven strong numbers for MTV and other networks too. Bravo said reality show content is the most trafficked section of its Web site. “Reality show viewers are rabid for content,” said Jason Klarman, senior VP of marketing at Bravo. “If they love their show, they literally cannot get enough. An hour is not enough for them. … They want to get to know the characters a little bit more. They want pictures, more video. It doesn’t take away from the next episode. It feeds the fire.”

The online content for reality show “Blow Out” has generated more than 1 million page views since its season two premiere June 7, and the newly launched “Being Bobby Brown” is on track to do as well or better in its first couple of weeks. Total page views for Bravotv.com average about 14 million per month.

Cable networks have moved aggressively into broadband video in the past year, said Will Richmond, president of Broadband Directions, a research firm. “For the first time, cable programmers can interact directly with their viewers,” he said.