Saturday July 21, 2012
Viacom identifies Malaysia as strategic market for social media offerings
By WONG WEI-SHEN
IN this day and age, social media is increasingly becoming a necessity especially among the youth. Business enterprises are realising the opportunities the digital media platform offers in creating brand value and broadening the connection with targeted audiences.
Viacom International Media Networks (Viacom), through its unit MTV, constantly searches for new innovations to create more relevant content for its audience. Although in the past MTV’s content was aired mainly on television, it is now breaching the digital atmosphere.
In a “super now” world, which calls for instant gratification in terms of social media, Viacom executive president and managing director for Asia Indra Suharjono emphasises the role that intelligence has to play.
“We have to be more intelligent than before. We need to have a subject matter to allow the audience to make points of discussion,” she says.
MTV launched a mobile application for both iPhone and android mobile users earlier this year. Named “Under The Thumb”, the app seeks to connect MTV viewers regardless of distance. It offers an on-demand catalogue of MTV shows, news, and other entertainment, which are all controllable with the user’s thumb.
The app targets viewers who are perpetually-connected virtually. However, it has yet to arrive on Malaysian shores. Currently the app is available in selected countries such as Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.
Suharjono says MTV will definitely not forsake traditional and linear media platforms.
“We are actually getting more audience than before because with digital media, we have more people talking about the content. Now, everybody is like a little journalist. The influence is for people to go back to linear platforms,” she adds.
Suharjono, whose portfolio encompasses the strategic management of channels including MTV, MTV Live HD, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr, has had a busy and eventful year leading up to the recent MTV World Stage Live in Malaysia 2012 on July 15.
With an artiste line-up showcasing Justin Bieber, K-pop sensations Jay Park and Kara, and local songstress Mizz Nina, the event saw an attendance of more than 16,000 people at the Surf Beach in Sunway Lagoon.
“Malaysia plays an important role for us in the South-East Asian cluster. I felt that Malaysia was the right place to test out the franchise, because of its multi-cultural population. Also, about 30% of its demographics are youth,” she says.
This means the Malaysian market is one in which instant reactions can be generated via social media. “When we launch something new we always get a reaction from Malaysians first. This is important to us because it helps determine how we make decisions in our plans for each market,” Suharjono says.
She adds that Malaysia has proven that it has all the trappings of a great market. The developing nation brings in a steady revenue stream for Viacom, and ranks one of the top five countries in Asia-Pacific in this aspect.
“Celcom has been our partner since the first world stage. Finding new partners is not an easy task. The continuity encourages us, because it means we have been doing a good job,” Suharjono says.
The World Stage event has seen partners such as Twisties, Hong Leong Bank Bhd, and also the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia.
“We are looking at producing more local contents. We’re working with our partner Astro on how it can be done,” Suharjono says.
Viacom is currently proposing for Nickelodean to air Lat the Kampung Boy, a comic strip series by Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid. “Malaysia has a lot of talent, and its population loves music and art. This is something that can’t be ignored,” she says.
Nickelodean will launch its first massively multiplayer online game for Spongebob Squarepants next year. It will later be launched for the mobile platform as well. “We are quite excited and are confident it will do well. Spongebob is the only property that has managed to cross the older section as well. It is clean good fun,” she says.
Viacom’s aim is to continue to be relevant to its audiences through its channels. “We want to continue being at the forefront for what the youths want today, and to create an impact as well,” Suharjono points out.