Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Viacom?s MTV eyes mobile Web to expand cable streaming efforts

While most broadcasters are focusing on mobile applications to control how and when consumers watch television shows, Viacom?s MTV is betting on the mobile Web to limit how much free content viewers can access.

MTV claims that it is the first TV network to launch an authenticated model on its mobile Web site as part of a broader TV Everywhere push. With more traffic coming from every cranny of the Web from smartphones and tablets, MTV is the latest example of how broadcasters are relying on paid subscription models to fuel their monetization efforts.

?A significant portion of our Web traffic comes via mobile devices, so by enabling TV Everywhere on mobile Web, we're expanding the number of consumers that can easily and immediately access full episodes of their favorite shows,? said Colin Helms, senior vice president of connected content at MTV, New York.

?We had previously only been able to offer full episode viewing on mobile via our brand app,? he said. ?By optimizing it for mobile Web, we're making our content more accessible to a broader audience and making the experience of a following a link from social or anywhere more seamless.?

Top-notch mobile Web experience
To watch full episodes of TV shows from MTV?s mobile site, consumers must log-in with the account information from their TV provider. 

Mobile streaming is supported at launch by major TV providers including DirectTV, Verizon, Optimum and AT&T u-verse. However, big providers including Comcast and Cox Communications do not support the feature yet.

To log in, consumers can select their provider and enter their account information while staying within MTV?s mobile site.

Only full episodes are limited to MTV subscribers. All consumers can still watch video clips and recaps from the mobile site.

MTV parent Viacom also plans to roll out the mobile Web streaming feature for the VH1, CMT and Logo TV brands.

Full-episode streaming will remain free on MTV?s desktop Web site.

Mobile-heavy viewing
The initiative builds on the launch of a streaming app in June that lets consumers watch full episodes of their favorite shows. Since then, the app has been downloaded more than 2 million times.

Most recently, MTV rolled out the app to Android devices (see story). 

MTV?s streaming app is also set-up so that only consumers with a TV subscription can watch full episodes.

The decision to hone in on mobile Web is interesting since the majority of networks are instead focusing on mobile apps, which traditionally provide more content and a richer experience for viewers. 

It should come as no surprise that MTV is the first broadcaster to tackle the mobile Web for authentication based on the network?s core demographic of millennials under the age of 30, who are hungrily consuming content via mobile devices.

Now that most broadcasters are working towards in-app authentication, the mobile Web will likely be the next big focus for all networks.

Compared to a mobile app, the mobile Web obviously has a broader reach and does not require consumers to download and open a mobile app every time that they want to watch a television program.

Pinpointing the mobile Web also lets MTV control the amount of traffic that is coming from social networks via smartphones and tablets.

The move towards mobile Web streaming also highlights how mobile Web sites are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and therefore able to support data-heavy features such as full-episode viewing.

MTV has tested a mobile-first approach to premiere its new series ?Wait Til Next Year? on its mobile app before it aired on TV this year.

According to MTV, the mobile-first launch of the show increased app downloads 47 percent week over week and contributed to the biggest week of app streaming.

?With our audience so active in the mobile space, our focus right now is to provide multiple entry points for them to access and enjoy our shows on their mobile devices,? Mr. Helms said.

?With that said, we're always listening to our audience and honing the experiences across all platforms.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York