MTV Networks International: Localizing Globally

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR236
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1987-2006
Organization : MTV Networks
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India, China, Japan, The UK, Italy, Australia
Themes: Globalization
Industry : Media, Entertainment, and Gaming

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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MTV (short for Music Television), the first ever cable music channel, was launched on August 1, 1981, by Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company, a joint venture between Warner Communications and American Express. Its launch was said to have marked the beginning of the cable TV revolution. In 1984, the company was renamed MTV Networks (MTVN). From the time of its launch, MTV's target audience had typically been people in the 12 to 24 age group. However, to cater to the other age groups, MTVN launched several new channels over the years. As MTV aired a lot of heavy-metal and rap music, another channel VH1 (short for video hits one) was formed in 1985 to play light popular music, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), jazz, country music, and classics aimed at the 18 to 35 age group.

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From the beginning, MTV encouraged emerging musical talent. Little known musicians became popular after their songs were aired on MTV.

Over the years, MTV was credited with the success of many musicians and groups, like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Van Halen, The Police, Def Leppard, and Nirvana. Many artistes also created music videos especially for MTV. The channel also offered exclusive on-air time to popular artistes by staging 'acoustic concerts' in its show 'MTV Unplugged'.

In 1986, MTVN was acquired by Viacom Inc. (Viacom). (Refer to Exhibit I for a note on Viacom Inc.). MTVN embarked on its international expansion by launching its first overseas channel in Europe in 1987. Soon after, it established MTVI, to manage all its overseas channels, which included MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon.

In the 1990s, MTVN launched other new channels like VH1 Classic, MTV 2, MTV U, MTV Hits, etc. to cater to specific demographics (Some of these channels were also launched worldwide by MTVI). Despite its audience comprising various age groups,9 MTVN primarily targeted the 12-24 age group as MTV had been considered a youth brand right from the beginning.

While the other MTVN-owned channels played different types of music, the core channel, MTV, began playing less music and started airing programs, some of which were based on unusual concepts...


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9] The age-group of MTVN's target audience depended on the channels and their program content. The various channels of MTVN targeted the 12-24, 18-34, and the 18-49 age groups.


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