Bands Battle For MTV Affils

One lucky band will rise from among hundreds that participated in local affiliate promotions to rock on TV on New Year’s Eve, the culmination of a promotional partnership between MTV and cable operators in four major markets.

It’s a big win for an exposure-hungry band, but a bigger win for Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Comcast, which used the promotion to raise awareness of video on demand and to draw key 18-to-34-year-old viewers.

In Los Angeles and Austin (Time Warner), Phoenix (Cox) and Chicago (Comcast), the network and its affiliates paired to solicit entries from local bands who seek the MTV exposure.

MTV and MTV2 promoted the contest, directing bands to microsites created in each market to which musical acts could upload their songs.

The microsite is co-branded for MTV, the local operator and any local sponsors.

Fans in each market could listen to the songs and vote for the five acts per market to make it to finals.

The prize: a local “pod” — a 60-second video — scheduled as a local ad availability in the participating markets showcasing the winning band during MTV’s national New Year’s Eve countdown show.

Chicago had the most entries, with 168 bands. Viewers there voted for winners 826,000 times.

Austin attracted 139 entries and 838,000 votes; with 130 Phoenix bands attracting about 500,000 votes.

In Los Angeles, 152 bands were in contention and voters logged on to offer 1.2 million votes.

Maureen Lane, vice president of programming for Time Warner in Los Angeles, called the promotion an effective way to drive young viewers to VOD, a product newly launched in the market the operator took over from Adelphia Communications and Comcast.

The system had also launched all the MTV networks, so the contest also helped MTV fans “get used to the fact” the new channels were available, she said.

Time Warner Cable knew the formula would be popular: When MTV was developing the promotion, it did a similar contest in Los Angeles last summer. Bands were solicited for a chance to open for Linkin Park. The battle of the winning bands was filmed at a sold-out Roxy nightclub and the concert was shown on Time Warner Cable. The winning band, Flowers for Dorian, was so well-received that Linkin Park had it open seven concert dates.

Juliette Morris, senior vice president of MTV partner marketing, said the multiplatform campaign demonstrates the network’s commitment to helping affiliates connect with young viewers.

MTV viewers want to discover the next big thing, and this contest plays to that desire, she said.

MTV Networks would like to expand its effort with similar local band contests in more affiliate markets in 2008, Morris said.