The Music Network can reveal exclusively that MTV Australia will today announce the launch of two new pure music channels in a move to refresh their offering in Australia and affiliate them further with MTV channels around the world. MTV Music, an Australian version of the UK’s number one music channel, and MTV Dance, the iconic youth broadcaster’s first 24 hour channel to exclusively feature electronic, hip hop and R n’ B, will both launch on Foxtel on 3 December.
Kerry Taylor, Senior Vice President and General Manager of MTV for Viacom International Media Networks UK, has creative oversight for all MTV channels in the UK, Ireland, Russia, Hungary, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Ms Taylor told The Music Network, “MTV has a long and successful history in Australia and it remains a very important market for us internationally. We’re hugely excited to be refreshing our music offering and launching two new branded music channels.”
Australia’s MTV Music will resemble its UK namesake and feature pop, rock, urban and alternative music programming, global music video premieres, chart shows and countdowns hosted by international artists. MTV PUSH, the channel’s worldwide promotional vehicle for breaking artists, global versions of MTV News and other music-based MTV programming will also feature on the channel.
Australian and Kiwi artists that are breaking internationally would be featured in MTV Music programming, with MTV’s Sydney based team working in partnership with MTV’s centralised programming team in the UK to add local relevance for Australian audiences. For example, New Zealand artist Lorde is currently the MTV PUSH artist and is being promoted on 63 channels in 152 territories worldwide, 40 MTV websites and 80 localised social network channels.
Ms Taylor added, “MTV Music has been the UK’s most popular dedicated music channel ever since it launched in 2011 and I’m sure Australian music fans are going to love it just as much as their British counterparts.”
MTV Dance will exclusively play dance, RnB and hip-hop, 24-hours-a-day making it MTV’s first 24-hour network dedicated to these three genres. Featuring international charts, live performances and hosted countdowns, the channel adheres to Australia’s growing interest in dance. More than a third of Australians aged 16-29 listen to dance and, according to Nielsen Soundscan, dance music sells the most singles, with sales reaching 35.6% of the total market in 2012.
The Music Network has been given an exclusive first look at MTV Dance.
“In response to huge demand for dance music in Australia as well as around the globe, we’re excited to be introducing the first ever dedicated round the clock dance music channel down under,” said Ms Taylor.
The two new channel launches bring the number of MTV channels produced in Sydney to five. MTV Dance and MTV Music will launch exclusively on Foxtel, replacing MTV Hits and MTV Classic, while IPTV provider FetchTV and New Zealand’s SkyTV will retain MTV Hits and MTV Classic.
This news comes just weeks after the company announced it would move broadcasting operations to London and further centralise some functions. Specifically, broadcast transmission for all of Viacom’s channels in Australia and New Zealand will migrate to the company’s Europe-based playout facilities. On the programming side, editorial content for MTV, MTV Music, MTV Dance, MTV Hits and MTV Classic will be done in the UK in collaboration with the Sydney-based team. MTV’s parent company said earlier the centralisation could result in up to fifteen job losses, but puts the Australian business more in line with how MTV and sister brand Comedy Central is operated in other parts of the world.
This new era of MTV will see MTV Dance work closely with dance music website inthemix.com.au and the wider Sound Alliance portfolio. Both are represented by Ignite Media Brands and will band together on commercial partnerships.
The restructure unambiguously aligns MTV Australia with youth audiences and distances their music programming from other music television networks. Last year, Viacom and MTV released their “The Next Normal: An Unprecedented Look at Millennials Worldwide” research report, where they set out to decode those born between 1982 and 2003. The study is the biggest and most informative undertaking from the channel thus far and its findings spearheaded the new focus.
MTV has made a number of recent shifts to gain a wider youth audience in Australia, with shows like 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, The Jersey Shore, Geordie Shore and Young and Married broadcast on its flagship channel. The shift resulted in MTV averaging its highest ratings ever in Australia, further fuelled by series six of Geordie Shore being produced in Sydney as well as three installments of global live music series, MTV World Stage, produced at last year’s Big Day Out. MTV is bundled within Foxtel’s entertainment channels whereas MTV Music and MTV Dance will be bundled within Foxtel’s Kids and Music package.
The Music Network asked Simon Bates, Director of MTV Australia & New Zealand more about the changes.
How long have the two refreshed channels been in the works?
- We have been collaborating with Foxtel since early 2013 to explore ways to refresh the music offerings on the platform. We looked at several scenarios and collectively came to the decision that MTV Music and MTV Dance were the best new channels to launch in Australia. The refreshed suite of channels brings more distinct and clearly defined options to their subscribers, making the channels more complementary in nature.
Is this all part of a larger strategy?
- Our strategy is simple — Australians recognises MTV as a global brand and we’re going to embrace that more across all three MTV channels on Foxtel.
Will the dance channel partner with any significant festivals?
- We’re very keen to explore partnerships around all of our brands, and festivals are a natural fit. Right now we’re focused on creating MTV Dance in a way that will resonate with Australian audiences and bring an entirely new channel that showcases one of the fastest growing genres of music.
How influenced was this new focus by your “The Next Normal: An Unprecedented Look at Millennials Worldwide” study?
- We invest heavily in research and it influences and impacts everything we do. “The Next Normal” was a groundbreaking study that delved into the minds of the Millennial Generation across 24 countries – including Australia — and this insight helps us shape our plans, our programming, our partnerships and more. This study, combined with our ongoing local research efforts, gives us valuable insight into the mindset of Australian Millennials and how to programme for and market to them.
Moving MTV Classic off the Foxtel EPG is a bold move, what was behind it?
- Working in partnership with Foxtel, we wanted to refresh the music offerings and provide very distinct brand offerings that compliment each other. MTV Classic and Max often competed for the same audience, so with MTV Music and its genre-specific music programming and MTV Dance we have much clearer brands to offer Foxtel subscribers. MTV Classic and MTV Hits will continue to be available on Fetch TV in Australia and on SkyTV in New Zealand, however these channels will no longer be available to Foxtel subscribers. The full suite of all five MTV channels (MTV, MTV Music, MTV Dance, MTV Classic and MTV Hits) and their respective websites will continue to be managed out of our Sydney office.
Will you ultilise current hosts for the MTV Music Channel or are there plans to bring in new faces?
- Kate Peck and Keiynan Lonsdale are amazing at what they do, and they both will continue to work with MTV on a variety of projects in tandem with our marketing partners. There are no plans to bring in new VJs at this time.
MTV Music will see some crossovers from the UK, with MTV Push finding a home there. Will there be any crossovers of current shows to the MTV Dance Channel?
- We’re still in the process of fine-tuning the programming schedule for MTV Dance, but it’s safe to say that it will feature programming not currently seen on other MTV channels in Australia. That said, some of the artists that cross over will, of course, be showcased on MTV and MTV Music as well as MTV Dance.
Will the new focus affect the channel’s long-form programming? In other words, will we see more Geordie Shore and less Hogan Knows Best?
- MTV Music and MTV Dance will be exactly what they say on the label – 100% music-focused. MTV (channel 124) will continue to showcase our global series and events such as Geordie Shore, Sixteen & Pregnant, Catfish, MTV EMA, the Video Music Awards, MTV World Stage and more. MTV will also continue to air music video blocks in certain day parts.
Who are the key contacts for MTV in Australia?
- Simon Bates – Director of MTV Australia and New Zealand
- Kim Lanser – Digital Media Senior Manager
- Miranda Boyce – Talent & Music Manager
- Milly Gattegno – Publicity & Communications Manager
- Michelle Lucia – Marketing Manager
- Renae Hunter – Commercial Marketing Manager
- Mike Connor – Commercial Marketing Executive
NOTE: Readers of The Music Network will have worked with Drew Michel in the past. Drew has assumed the role of Channel Operations Director for Viacom International Media Networks and will continue to be based in the Sydney office.