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MTV Eyes Its Own YouTube

An AdAge Video-Enhanced Report From CTAM

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BOSTON (AdAge.com) -- Judy McGrath wants her YouTube. The MTV President used her keynote address and a question-and-answer session with reporters afterward at today's CTAM Summit to hint at several forthcoming MTV Networks announcements in the digital media space.
Eyeing acquisitions
The company is looking globally to launch a service similar to YouTube, because "video is our expertise. ... We're looking at acquisitions and builders," Ms. McGrath told reporters. YouTube has created a "new definition of social video," she said, and that has been the biggest shift in media landscape in the last six months. "If you look at a chart [of the growth of user-generated content] it's like a hockey stick," she said.

The CTAM Summit, the cable industry's annual marketing convention, takes place today and tomorrow at Boston's Hynes Convention Center, and the opening keynote focused on how MTV Networks has adapted to a multiplatform environment.

Broadband launch
A suite of broadband channels developed by former VH1 head John Sykes are set to launch in the next couple weeks, Ms. McGrath said, adding that another mulitplatform upfront deal, like an early one MTV Networks inked with media agency OMD, is imminent.

"Users have a seemingly endless appetite" for all things digital, she said. "We've never launched a service because we can but because there's a demand we can brand."

The MTV Networks president delivered a monologue and answered questions from Business Week's Tom Lowry on stage. Aware that many in the audience work in affiliate sales, she touched upon a topic that can be a sore spot with many cable operators: that by offering too much programming on a broadband channel networks bypass the cable companies, who pay networks millions in carriage fees. She said that instead of fearing such plays, direct-to-consumer digital media is good for multiple systems operators.

On the front lines
"Traditional cable providers are on the front line of many of these new things, including wireless," she said.

When asked what rival media company had done something she was jealous of she cited Disney Channel's "High School Musical" movie. Her 11-year-old daughter followed it on every platform, she said, adding that she herself watches FX's "Nip Tuck" and will head to MySpace to find out more about the storylines.

Mr. Lowry asked if she's seen the forthcoming Microsoft portable media player. He noted that MTV staffers often refer to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as "Willy G." She has been briefed on the player, she said, and it's "really fantastic." She noted that while there are 100 million iPods out there "you have to believe there'll be others in the space."
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