On Tuesday, August 1st, MTV celebrates its 25th birthday. Everyone knows the first video that was broadcast: "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles. But what was the second video? "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar.
Those were the days introducing us to the VJ and a limited inventory of back-to-back music videos with the occassional in-studio artist drop-in and promos proclaiming "I Want My MTV". That MTV revolutionized the music business and helped all: music labels, radio stations, promoters, cable operators, advertisers targeting the leading-edge youth market and concert venue operators. And, of course, the bands and artists that made the leap to music videos. Music was no longer just in your ears, it was in your face. It reinvigorated a business needing a new platform...and MTV provided it.
If you were a high school teen, you wanted your MTV. Even better was "watching" it with your girlfriend. Now that's a memory...
25 years later, that MTV of old is only a nostalgic memory. It was bold at the time but looks quaint in retrospect, filled with mullets and zebra-stripped clothes.
From Bananarama to Bon Jovi to Beavis to Britney, there have been a lot of highs and lows for MTV.
Nowadays, MTVN has a whole new mission: "You have to evolve or die", says MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath -- named one of the most important execs by Fortune magazine. And digital media is reinvigorating the music business once again...with MTV clearly planning to be an active participant.
Instead of just lauding its accomplishments over 25 years, MTV actually is being pretty low-key about its birthday. Sure, they are "re-creating" the original MTV over on VH1 Classic all day and Sirius Satellite Radio will offer a two-hour retrospective from most of the original VJs. MTV with make a few mentions throughout the day. Otherwise, it's business as usual. And why not? Most of its current audience wasn't born 25 years ago and that MTV was a very different one that what they see now.
Last week, Ms. McGrath made a keynote speech at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) conference in Boston, showing an old commercial of a roller skater carrying a TV on her shoulder, jokingly touting "MTV to go."
As reported by MultiChannel News:
"I can't believe we actually did that promo," said McGrath. "But we figured back then if they could, people would want to take their MTV with them. So now they can, with all the new platforms."So what does MTVN plan next? McGrath said the debut of new broadband channels aimed at baby boomers would be launched, led by former VH1 president and current MTVN president of network development John Sykes as new-form dual online/cable channels.
McGrath spoke about the "everywhere" world philosophy enveloping Viacom Inc.'s MTVN, which has been reorganized to place digital content alongside linear TV production.
The impetus: Consumers are seeking media on an array of platforms and will follow good content across different platforms.
"New technology has inspired new consumer behavior, unleashing pent-up demand...You have to evolve or die. Those are the stakes," she said, noting that cable operators are playing a key role in giving users access to this universe with their high-speed products.
McGrath said that from March to April there was a 40% increase in the number of streams against MTVN's various broadband sites.
She also pointed to a change in social behavior, saying in the past that when a parent sent a kid to his or her room it was a punishment: "Now, it's the center of a personal ecosystem."
Therein, McGrath said young people are engaged in digital doings to the extent that 57% create daily content for the Internet, either through text, pictures or video; they spend up to three hours a day on the Web; nine out of 10 use the Web to help them with homework; and two-thirds of them send e-mail messages constantly. She also noted that the number of cell phone users ages 8 to 11 has doubled.
McGrath said that migration of media is also important to advertisers. "Today, consumers are not targeted, but hunted and snared, individually and collectively" she said, adding that MTVN's far-reaching advertising deal with OMD, included components touching such properties as iFilm, NeoPets, XFire, Motherload and MTV Uber.
McGrath, in response to BusinessWeek senior editor Tom Lowry's question during an on-stage interview, cited user-generated video and YouTube as the media business' biggest game-changers of the past six months."
The hunt for more digital transference continues. With rarely a music video or mullet to be seen.
Happy 25th Birthday, MTV.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, July 31, 2006,