Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) network MTV is preparing to go head-to-head with Spotify with a new music service, as it steps up its mobile content strategy with two new apps.
The broadcaster is planning to target “mobile-loving millennials” with two over-the-top (OTT) apps offering MTV programming and digital music.
MTV Trax is tailored for pre-pay mobile customers and “casual music fans” who are put off by more expensive subscription services such as Spotify and Deezer.
The 100 “hottest music tracks”, as curated by MTV staff, will be automatically downloaded to users’ handsets each night, meaning they can play the content without being connected to the internet.
MTV Trax will initially trial in the UK in partnership with O2, costing users £1 ($1.54) per month, with New Zealand the next market to launch.
Video content app MTV Play, meanwhile, will roll out in Germany, Switzerland and Romania in partnership with Telefonica, Sunrise and Telekom respectively. Further market launches are expected over the coming months.
For €2.99 ($3.39) a month or €29.99 ($34.05) a year, users will be able to watch MTV content on their smartphones, as well as “flicking” content to a connected smart TV or tablet device. It replaces a previous video app, MTV ‘Under The Thumb’, launched in 2011.
Speaking to M&M Global, VIMN’s senior vice-president mobile brand licensing Oliver Nitz said it was important for MTV to begin playing in the mobile app space: “There are six billion devices out there, so sooner or later the take-up of OTT services will grow. That is why we want to play a role, and why we will invest.”
Nitz is confident that the lower price point and “strong brand” will help MTV to attract an audience to its digital music app, while adding that both products will help MTV to connect with consumers not currently subscribing to pay TV services.
He also believes the apps will help act as a “retention tool” with those already engaged with the broadcasted through mobile channels.
MTV Trax and MTV Play will be officially unveiled by VIMN Bob Bakish at next month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as part of a talk on ‘Content evolution for the multi-form factor future’.
“MTV is one of the hottest entertainment brands in the minds of 16-to 24-year-old mobile users, with the majority of online engagement with the MTV brand now coming through mobile devices,” said Bakish.
“MTV Trax is a new concept in premium digital music services – a ‘play-as-you-go’ offering for casual music fans who want music on their mobile, but in an easy, flexible and low-risk way. It’s easy for the end user, because MTV’s experts curate all the music, and it’s easy for the mobile operators,” he added.
Music curation is high on the agenda for entertainment brands. Fresh from its $3bn purchase of Beats, earlier this month Apple recruited high-profile BBC Radio presenter Zane Lowe to an as-yet-unannounced role.