MTV finds digital topper

Salmi new prexy of global digital media

MTV Networks has found its new digital guru.

Mika Salmi — founder and CEO of online media company Atom Entertainment, which Viacom bought in August for $200 million — has been tapped prexy of global digital media for MTV Networks.

Though he has a different title, Salmi essentially replaces Jason Hirschhorn, the TV group’s former chief digital officer, who ankled several months ago (Daily Variety, May 31).

He will report to MTVN chair-chief exec Judy McGrath.

Talks to recruit Salmi began soon after the agreement to acquire Atom was reached and concluded after the purchase closed three weeks ago. Exec founded Atom in 1998 with the hopes of building a multimedia Internet conglom but had to retrench after the dot-com bubble burst. Netco survived by merging with gaming site Shockwave.com. More recently, it expanded a bit with the addition of viral video site AddictingClips.com.

In his new post, however, Salmi will finally get the chance to oversee a broad array of multimedia properties online. They include the Web sites for Viacom’s suite of cable channels — among them MTV, VH1, CMT, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, Comedy Central and Spike TV — as well as separate Internet properties like NeoPets, GameTrailers, IFilm, musicstore Urge, vidgame developer Harmonix Systems and numerous mobile initiatives.

“We didn’t get there with Atom, but the cool thing now is we’re getting even more brands with an even broader reach,” Salmi told Daily Variety.

Execs overseeing the new-media efforts from MTVN’s music group, kids and family group and entertainment group will report to Salmi and their respective division chiefs.

MTV Networks have been investing heavily in digital content at a time when its young audience is increasingly spending time online instead of in front of the TV. From MySpace to YouTube to iTunes, MTV faces a number of nimble young competitors for the attention of its target aud.

Salmi, who is putting together his team of lieutenants, will work out of MTV HQ in New York and Atom’s offices in San Francisco.

In a statement, McGrath said Salmi “understands what it takes to create that addictive, immersive online experience, and at the same time, build a valuable brand.”

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