Viacom to Relaunch MTV Russia on Oct. 1

Previously, the brand was licensed to local TV companies.

MOSCOW -- MTV Russia is to be relaunched by Viacom on Oct. 1 as a cable and satellite TV channel. Previously, the network was run by local license holders and operated on a free-to-air basis.

Last year, Russian media group ProfMedia said it would not extend its license agreement for MTV Russia, preferring to launch a new entertainment channel, Pyatnitsa, on the same frequency.

Now, Viacom has taken back control of the MTV brand, which has been on the Russian market since 1998 and is relaunching the channel.

“The launch of MTV was scheduled for Oct. 1 since summer is a traditionally slow time for TV watching among our target audience aged 16-34,” Elena Balmont, general manager of Viacom International Media Networks Russia and CIS, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It makes more sense for us to launch it when the season has already kicked off.”

The revamped MTV Russia will be available via cable and satellite, said Balmont, adding that Viacom has already signed agreements with cable operator Rostelecom, mobile operator Megafon and satellite provider NTV+, while negotiations with other distributors are currently under way.

“Under VIMN’s management, the new-look MTV Russia will be much more closely aligned with the MTV brand globally -- allowing young Russians to fully experience the world’s leading youth entertainment brand, which resonates so successfully with their counterparts in other countries,” said Balmont.

She added that the new-look channel will feature the best of MTV’s globally available programming dubbed into Russian, much of which has not previously aired in Russia. There also are plans to develop and grow local content offers. The first locally produced show is MTV Top 20, which is to air as of the relaunch.

A serious focus on social media also is part of the new strategy, with an active presence on Facebook, Instagram and Russia’s biggest social networking website, Vkontakte.