“MTV, more than any network, has an imperative for reinvention. The network must anticipate changing tastes and trends among its young audience,” declared Viacom’s CEO Philippe Dauman on the media conglomerate’s earnings call this morning. “A bold period of reinvention is at hand at MTV.”
In many ways, MTV is responsible for the media world we live in today. Over the past three decades it has pioneered endless formats and initiatives that we take for granted, and it was blamed for short attention spans of the youth long before social media existed. An entire generation grew up on what began as a nonstop music channel but has long since morphed into a network focused on provocative, innovative scripted and reality television. (Its latest hit, Faking It, explores evolving social attitudes towards sexual orientation among high school students.)
Now the network wants to embark on another transformation of its viewers’ experience by churning out what it describes as “real-time interstitial coverage” of the biggest cultural and social media events each day. “Think the quick-hit video pieces invented by MTV but produced on the fly throughout the day to reflect trending topics, extending the network’s always-on dialogue with the audience,” Dauman explains.
It’s not clear what this actually means, but the company recently snared Bloomberg Businessweek’s creative director Richard Turley (who was responsible for many striking covers at the magazine) to lead its push into visual storytelling. MTV is also investing in its tech infrastructure to get the new concept up and running, Daubman said. So for anyone with a passing interest in the future of media in a multi-platform, digital environment, MTV’s latest innovations will be worth keeping a close eye on.
For the record, MTV’s parent Viacom reported a 5% rise in net income to $502 million, and declared a dividend of $0.30 per share. The company has returned $2 billion to shareholders over the past two quarters. Its shares are down about 1.7% in mid-morning trade.