VMA Videos Become Available Online After Vevo, MTV Strike Distribution Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

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Talk about unlikely bedfellows: Vevo has teamed up with MTV to distribute videos of Sunday night’s VMA performances online.

The music video platform started to publish videos of the VMAs early Monday morning, making them available for streaming both on its own website and through its own apps as well as on YouTube.com and the sites and services of other Vevo distribution partners. Videos are being made available to internet users around the world, save for a few performances that may not be available due to artists or labels opting out.

This is the first time MTV and its parent company Viacom have struck a partnership deal with Vevo. In many ways, it’s a sign for how much the relationship between the two companies, and the music industry in general, has changed.

When Vevo debuted in December of 2009, it was seen by many as an attempt to steal some of MTV’s thunder by reinventing music television online. The relationship between MTV and Vevo was a bit  dicey during those early days, with Vevo owner Universal at one point taking its own videos off of MTV.com for over a year.

In 2012, Vevo seemed to further encroach onto MTV’s territory with the launch of Vevo TV, a 24-hour online music video channel. At the time, the music video platform even talked about adding VJs to its programming. However, Vevo’s linear programming never really took off with viewers, who instead preferred to watch videos on their own terms. Earlier this year, Vevo shut down Vevo TV as  part of a redesign of its website.

A redesign, one might add, that has been part of a bigger shift for Vevo: Long primarily known for supplying YouTube with major label music videos, Vevo now wants to attract more viewers to its own site and apps, and eventually offer viewers. Later this year, Vevo plans to unveil a paid subscription service. In other words: Instead of trying to be MTV, Vevo now wants to take on Spotify.

All the while, shifts in media consumption have taken a toll on MTV, which has seen its own ratings slide. The network has lost nearly half of its 18-49 audience over the past five years, and the VMAs as its flagship event haven’t fared much better. Five years ago, the awards show still attracted 12.4 million viewers. Last year, that number had slipped to just five million.

Vevo on the other hand has a pretty massive reach online, thanks in large part to its distribution partnerships with YouTube, Facebook and others. The music video platform currently serves 18.5 billion videos per month, and  Vevo’s videos are regularly amongst the most popular clips on YouTube.

Tapping into that massive distribution network can help MTV to reach a much bigger audience — including many young viewers who may not have cable, or simply don’t bother to tune into live events.