MTV clicks China outlet

Conglom gets hitched to search engine giant

PUSAN — Viacom’s MTV Networks has announced a content and advertising alliance with China’s leading search engine, Baidu, which will give the conglom a powerful outlet for its video and music content in China’s burgeoning online market of 123 million Webizens.

Using MTV Zone, China’s online viewers will be able to download 15,000 hours of MTV and Nickelodeon original licensed video content and musicvideos for online viewing or download through http://www.baidu.com.

MTV Zone is the first branded area on Baidu, the Chinese-language search engine that is the world’s fourth-most-accessed Web site, worth around $3 billion.

Content on Baidu’s MTV Zone will include locally produced skeins such as “MTV Music Wire,” “MTV Chart Countdown” and local music show “Tian Lai Cun”; MTV reality skeins “Pimp My Ride,” “Cribs” and “Laguna Beach”; and Nickelodeon children’s shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer.”

MTV Zone will also show musicvideos from four Chinese labels — EE Media, Modern Sky, Music Nation and Ocean Butterflies, as well as video content from indie label Avex Group, which represents many artists with strong pan-Asian appeal.

Deal marks a significant strengthening of MTV Networks in the Chinese digital market and fits with Viacom’s strategic aim to expand its digital and international business as cable ad growth slows in the U.S.

“This alliance with China’s (top) Internet search engine is a key milestone in our digital media position in China and advances our long-term commitment to expanding our brands and local content in China,” said MTV Intl. veep William Roedy.

Baidu topper Robin Li said the revenue-share deal offered exciting new opportunities for advertisers to reach the online youth demographic in China.

“We’re excited to expand our powerful online entertainment platform at Baidu through this first-of-its-kind alliance with MTV Networks,” he said.

Some downloaded content such as musicvideos will reqire payment, but most will be downloadable free of charge after viewing advertisements, with revenues shared by MTV Networks, Baidu and the record labels.

MTV and Baidu will also share ad revenues, and Procter & Gamble’s Rejoice brand and Motorola have signed on as the first advertisers on MTV Zone downloads.

Despite a difficult regulatory environment for foreign broadcasters, MTV has managed to build up a strong presence in China. It is seen in 13.1 million households in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Hong Kong and hotels and foreign compounds throughout mainland China. It also produces skeins seen in 175 million TV households.

Nickelodeon’s programming is seen on CCTV14 in 300 million households, along with local content produced through Nickelodeon’s partnership with Shanghai Media Group, which is aired on Oriental Children’s Channel (OTSE). It recently launched consumer products in China for “SpongeBob” and “Dora.”

In addition to MTV Zone on Baidu’s portal, MTV has partnerships with telcos China Mobile and China Unicom, which gives it access to 438 million mobile subscribers in the country. It also operates http://www.mtvchina.com and http://www.hahanick.com.

MTV already has strategic alliances with Chinese media groups CCTV, Beijing TV and Shanghai Media Group, as well as the Beijing Olympics.

Fact that the deal is for licensed versions of music and video content should also strike a blow against the pirates who dominate the Chinese market for music and video. Last year, seven record companies accused Baidu of directing users to Web sites offering free pirated downloads of their songs; the Netco was ordered by a Beijing judge to stop.

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