MTV premieres new service on the Internet

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LONDON -- MTV Networks Europe, the division of the Viacom Inc. media group which owns the cable and satellite-delivered MTV music channels, went online and digital July 9 with a new programming service branded M2 Europe.

While other MTV channels have set up Web sites after they've launched, M2 represents the first MTVN Europe channel to premiere on the Internet.

M2, available both on the Internet and digital TV, is part of MTVN Europe's bid to enhance brand awareness for its music services.

The move is in response to the highly competitive environment that's led to the launch of several local music TV stations competing with MTV for young European consumers' attention.

On the Internet, M2 will be a 24-hour-day Webcast service (, starting August 3.

Internet programming will comprise live performances of the latest rock and pop acts which appeal to young music fans, such as U.S. urban music group WuTang Clan, pop band Supergrass, rap group Beastie Boys, and rock acts Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Beck.

M2 online will also allow Web browsers access to a database of more than 1,500 music videos. From the database, each site visitor will be able to produce his or her own one-hour music TV show, which MTVN Europe producers will consider for broadcast on the service's digital TV version.

The Internet service is the result of an MTVN Europe partnership with international Internet service provider PSINet Inc.

The digital TV edition of M2 is scheduled for an October launch. The broadcast service will be available on Canal Digital, a digital TV platform jointly operated by French pay-TV giant Canal Plus and Telenor, the Norwegian telecommunications group. Digital TV M2 will start transmission in Scandinavia and later roll out to other major European markets, including the U.K.

The TV edition will be round-the-clock, all-music entertainment with no interruptions from commercials, presenters or music charts. Although videos featured will be chosen by participants, including the producers, viewers and celebrity guests, the programming will be varied, and targeted at all forms of music lovers and age groups.

The concept of an uninterrupted music TV channel originated in the U.S. in August 1996 as an Internet and digital TV-only service. It was prompted by criticisms that the original MTV channels were starting to feature too many non-music programs aimed at the same youth audience.

However, M2 in Europe and the U.S. has created an extra platform for up-and-coming bands who may not get an opportunity on the traditional ad-funded MTV networks which need to deliver mass audiences to advertisers. M2 on digital TV reaches nine million U.S. homes.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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