MTV to Launch on Free TV in Germany (Exclusive)

MTV Buzz

Viacom will launch an unencrypted, free-to-air version of the music network Dec. 23 in a bid to capture more of Europe's largest ad market.

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) on Friday will announce plans to launch an unencrypted, free-to-air version of MTV in Germany.

Viacom already operates free TV versions of its Comedy Central and Nickelodeon channels in Germany, as well as free-to-air network Viva, a German-focused music channel.

By shifting its iconic music and youth brand to free TV in the territory, the media conglomerate is making a bid for a bigger chunk of Germany's $5.4 billion television ad market. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Raffaele Annecchino, president and managing director for VIMN, Southern & Western Europe, Middle East and Africa, said Viacom's goal was to boost the company's share in Germany from its current position of around 3.4 percent to 5 percent.

Viacom's international television business is still mainly in cable and pay TV, but in several countries, the company has been pushing into the free TV sphere. Viacom bought Britain’s Channel 5 for $725 million in 2014, and picked up Argentina’s free-TV network Telefe for $345 million in cash last year. And in September, VIMN acquired an Italian digital free-to-air frequency in order to launch an unencrypted local version of its Spike channel, and took a 50 percent stake in Italian kids channel Super! Viacom also operates free-to-air versions of its Paramount Channel in Spain and Italy.

“Given the current fragmentation, achieving audience scale is becoming more important,” said Annecchino, explaining the reasons behind the move into free TV in select international territories.

Viacom will bow the free-to-air version of MTV Germany on Dec. 23 with three episodes of music documentary series Dare to Live starring Rory Kramer and featuring talent including Shawn Mendes, Martin Garrix and The Chainsmokers.

The network plans to invest in local-language production and will kick off its free TV launch with two German formats: MTV Buzz, a music video highlights program hosted by local host Uli Brase; and a charts show, which will launch with a top 100 year-ender looking back at the hits of 2017.

Annecchino said the standard lineup on MTV Germany will be a mix of local and international content with a strong focus on music, featuring some 13 hours of music per day.

Viacom has a standing partnership with German media group Alex Springer in Visoon, a local ad-sales joint venture.