MTVN Prepares Digital Push

NEW YORK MTV Networks is preparing an expansive digital initiative, part of its quest to reach a more adult demographic.

In a quarterly earnings call Thursday, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said that in the coming months, MTVN would launch a number of multiplatform networks targeting adults. The initiative will include broadband and video-on-demand platforms.

Although Dauman did not provide many details, he told analysts that MTVN “will be announcing in the next few weeks the launch of a series of multi-platform [networks] on broadband, wireless and VOD…targeted at specific adult demographics which will grow our presence with new audiences and create new revenue streams and business opportunities.”

Dauman offered a few hints about the scope of the initiative, saying that MTVN will make “modest investments” in the new services, which are likely to be developed without any linear TV presence.

“We think there was a better opportunity to reach people through these multiplatform networks at a very modest cost on both the programming side and overhead,” he said. “So if some of them work, they could have very, very high returns for us.”

Dauman also revealed that Viacom CFO Mike Dolan would step down at the end of December, capping a 26-year run at the company. Chief administrative officer Tom Dooley will succeed Dolan.

Dooley and Dauman rejoined Viacom this fall after chairman Sumner Redstone cut ties with president and CEO Tom Freston.

Viacom’s digital push was further prioritized by its financial performance in the third quarter. Digital ad sales were up 73 percent year-over-year, and Dauman said he anticipates digital sales to expand at high double-digit rates.

“I believe that there is a good chance we could reach $500 million in annual digital sales as early as next year,” Dauman said. If that holds true, it will be a remarkable acceleration of what Viacom had earlier anticipated; during the company’s first-quarter earnings call in May, Freston projected that Viacom would reach the $500 million mark within three years.