It’s rare to see a media outlet that does not either create exclusive shorts or post highlights for web and mobile in order to support on-air properties. It’s even rarer to see a media outlet putting all their eggs in the online basket in the hopes of generating more buzz for the channel or brand. MTV just pulled off that rarer feat last week with their MTV O Music Awards online-only program celebrating music and the use of digital to drive fan engagement. With the infrastructure many organizations have to activate and record events like this, what MTV has done is a model for others moving into the future.
While it is still too early to measure analytics comparable to on-air, the opportunities gained from programming like this are strong enough to carry through to that future time when the numbers could actually hold their own against broadcast. There were a few interesting elements of the OMAs. The first was the voting process – which was done through Twitter and Facebook. In a report at CNN Money, they cite eleven million people voting through Twitter.
There was another point that the CNN article brought up that was key. Having events like this online allows for the inclusion of advertisers who either can’t afford spots on-air or don’t want to be that broad to begin with. The point was made that the real key for advertisers is whether viewers were buzzing about certain parts of the show or actual advertisements. For that element, it seems that just airing the content in and of itself might not be enough. There should be communication and connectivity features surrounding the video player. By doing this, its much easier to track what’s going on in real-time and then port those elements out via Twitter or Facebook regardless of the form the communications were made – generating even more interest for viewing repeats of the show or highlights.
As we’ve seen with basic cable and even network news before, they have done a good job of capturing a bunch of content and either repurposing elements (like ESPN and X-Games) or drawing elements out across multiple programs to drive viewership of other shows (like Presidential or celebrity interviews.) By doing these lower-cost events, there could be opportunities for cost-effective content creation that could actually make it on-air within the right packaging.
These are just a few of the benefits of this type of programming. Certainly, MTV’s execution might have left something to be desired – I wish they had shown the examples of the nominees’ work (especially for the Digital Genius award) rather than just show their names – but they have time to iron their programming out. Online and Mobile is still considered a medium where people don’t pay as much attention, so time can be taken to refine mechanics.
With the resources broadcast and cable companies have and the growing trend for viewers to watch content via outlets other than televisions, this is the future and it would be a huge miss for the established outlets to not take advantage of what web-specific events have to offer in broadening their reach, providing additional advertising inventory and generating content that can be repurposed cost-effectively.