MTV and VH1 today will unveil new versions of their Web sites optimized for the iPad and tablet functionality in general.
The new venues are more robust than typical mobile sites, but are less text heavy and more touch-screen oriented than the average PC-geared site.
MTV’s decision is driven by the belief that tablets are unique devices warranting a different user interface. Indeed, Apple execs have touted the iPad’s large screen size as ideal for displaying content sites in their full functionality. More broadly, then, MTV’s move highlights the challenge publishers face given the ever-growing number of screens via which their content can be accessed. Some have deemed the app route as most appropriate for the iPad while leaving their Web sites alone.
Meanwhile, publishers ranging from magazines to Yahoo—with its recently launched Livestand platform—are betting that users will prefer to consume most Web content via apps, not browsers, on an iPad.
So why does MTV think people need iPad Web sites? “There are different use habits; I’m betting on both,” said MTV/VH1 digital gm Kristen Frank, noting MTV’s News app. “Apps serve a purpose . . . they offer a contained experience. Consumers [also] want to go to the sites they love and browse. “
But sometimes, those sites don’t translate well to even the larger tablet screen. Johnson Tang, MTV’s senior director of product development, cited ESPN.com, a rich content site, but one that requires lots of pinching and squeezing to navigate on an iPad—which is probably why ESPN.com defaults to its mobile site on tablets.
With that in mind, the new MTV and VH1 iPad sites are deliberately “very video centric, and very curated,” said Tang. In fact, each employs its own video player, so that MTV can control all ad sales, rather than Apple. The company has signed on Starbucks as the retooled sites exclusive sponsor.
Still, not everything has been tabletized. While fans can stream full-length episodes of shows like Jersey Shore on MTV.com, they can’t on the iPad sites.