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Viacom plots further int’l digital expansion

Viacom has witnessed double-digit viewer growth across two of its UK platforms – MTV.co.uk and My5 – and announced plans for further digital expansion as part of its ‘always on’ strategy.

James CurrellSpeaking at the TV Connect event in London yesterday, James Currell, chief operating officer of Viacom International Media Networks UK, Australia, Russia and eastern Europe said that views to MTV.co.uk grew 81% year-on-year in 2015.

“Being ‘always on’ has driven a significant upturn in traffic to MTV’s apps, websites and branded channels on social media,” said Currell (pictured). “MTV’s channel on Snapchat Discover has quickly become one of the most popular channels on that service – a service that generates about eight billion video views every day.”

The Viacom exec said that short-form social content has become “integral to MTV’s content story” and revealed that, having already experimented with live video on Twitter-owned video streaming service Periscope, MTV “currently exploring the potential of Facebook Live”.

Discussing My5, the recently rebranded on-demand service for Viacom-owned UK terrestrial network Channel 5, Currell said that video views have grown by double digits over the last 12 months and were up 35% year-on-year in January alone.

“We see My5 as an exciting development opportunity with spin-off potential into specialist content areas and partnership potential to grow the available content on the platform,” said Currell.

With the rebrand from Demand 5 to My5, Channel 5 started offering new functionality, including greater personalisation. It is also encouraging users to create user accounts for the first time in exchange for access to a broader range of content – including exclusive previews and boxsets.

“More than a half a million user accounts have been created in a matter of weeks, encouraging us to believe that we can build on My5’s recent growth,” said Currell.

Separately he announced that Viacom’s suite of TV Everywhere apps, Viacom Play Plex, which offer mobile access to content from each of the company’s brands, will be available in each market that it operates in – “either on an authenticated basis with our distribution partners or with new distribution partners such as mobile networks and in some instances direct to consumer.”

“Since our first Play apps launched in the last quarter of 2015, we’ve seen strong evidence of demand for these products amongst our distribution partners, but also amongst viewers. Nick Play has launched in 41 countries, MTV Play in 26, and Comedy Central Play which came-on stream most recently in nine,” said Currell.

“Collectively these apps have been downloaded more than seven million times and have a high percentage of active users monthly who have initiated more than 150 million streams since it began.”

He said that negotiations were underway with potential partners about launching Play apps in the UK, with hopes to launch there “later in the year”.