MTVU: INCUBATOR FOR INTERACTIVE IDEAS

Series Tested on Viacom’s Web Site for College Campuses

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The incubator for creating digital, interactive branded entertainment at MTV Networks is, fittingly, not a network most people can see on the air but rather online. MTVU is the company’s closed-circuit college campus-targeted TV play, but lives fully on a broadband platform as well.
“MTVU is an incubator internally to test out ideas. We hope some of these great concepts we’re discovering become series that could live on the broader channels,” says Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTVU.

In its latest integrated deal, the network has signed on MonsterTRAK, Monster.com’s online entry-level job site, to sponsor a second season of “The Opening,” a show that follows recent grads in their first jobs or internships. MonsterTRAK shares top billing in the show and powers a bigger backend co-branded job search site on MTVU.com.

“When we first launched the channel we wanted to be the ultimate job hub ... but we thought we’re not going to be in the jobs business,” said Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTVU.

Short-form episodes
“The Opening’s” short-form episodes will follow college grads working at Estee Lauder, T Mobile and Enterprise. Last season it followed a marketing assistant at EA Games, an Army photographer and a lab technician.

“We really believe in its strategy of on-air, online and on campus,” said Michelle Forker, senior VP of Monster Campus. She calls the integration “a pretty avant garde program.”

It's the latest in a series of deals with online and/or digital media companies, which are ideal integration partners for MTVU because the network is based on having a strong online and interactive presence. The network teamed with Yahoo for “IMU: I Miss You,” a series following long-distance college relationships where the couples communicated using only Yahoo messaging services. It previously enlisted MSN to sponsor a pilot-writing contest and most recently signed on with Cisco to create what it calls a “digital incubator”: 10 $25,000 grants for students who can develop the next mobisode, video game or show that lives on-air, online and on campus.

Development pool
“This is going to be our development pool,” Mr. Freidman said. One added bonus for advertisers: with MTV Uber, the broadband channel for the entire on-air schedule, the network is able to archive all of its past series, giving the sponsors’ relationship a much longer lifespan than in traditional over-the-air broadcast.

“The great thing about college students is you have to be where they are and they’re so ahead of the curve,” Mr. Friedman said. “MTVU is an incubator internally to test out ideas. We hope some of these great concepts we’re discovering become series that could live on the broader channels.”

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