Viacom was set to relaunch its MTV channel on Russian cable and satellite networks 10/1. First launched in September 1998, the network was run under license in 2007 by Viacom’s Russian partner, ProfMedia, owned by Vladimir Potanin. After several years of declining audience share, it stopped broadcasting in September 2012.
Abandoning the MTV brand, ProfMedia replaced it in June with the entertainment channel Pyatnitsa, which in Russian means Friday. At the same time, ProfMedia’s license for MTV expired and Viacom took back full control over the channel, says The Moscow Times.
ProfMedia declined to comment, but previous news reports said company CEO Nikolai Kartozia had admitted failing to broaden the audience. The channel had been flooded with entertainment shows, resulting in a loss of ratings.
“MTV is a great channel but the audience is too narrow for a national terrestrial channel and ProfMedia finally realized this,” said Peter Gerwe, founder of STS, the first privately owned television station in Russia, and now member of the board of Sistema Mass Media.
Said Robert Bakish, President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks: “We had a very good experience with our partners but are thrilled that we can now take complete control and bring the Russian consumer the MTV that the rest of the world shares — a combination of global programming that we source from the U.S. and Britain, as well as local content produced in Russia.”
The reborn MTV will be a completely different channel, he said, with new faces, new music and new content: “You will continue to see a mix of music. There will be music videos and more packaged music, such as recordings of live events that we do all over the world.”
The channel will also host reality and documentary entertainment programs, made globally and dubbed in Russian, supplemented by locally tailored programming.
“That is the MTV that you will see, and it will continue to grow from there. As it grows, our investment into content will continue to increase,” Bakish said. Some programs will be coming to Russia for the first time.
MTV is Viacom’s third Russian initiative, after Nickelodeon and the Paramount Comedy channel. In early 2014 the company plans to introduce a fourth venture — a Paramount movie channel supported by ad revenue.
So far, the company’s channels are doing well in terms of audience share, and Viacom expects the market to grow further as the penetration levels of paid television in Russia rises toward those in Europe or the U.S. Nickelodeon has become the number one kids’ network on paid television. Paramount Comedy, geared at an adult audience, is already in the top 25 after only a year on air, Viacom said.