‘MTV Live’ Takes the Stage

MTV is looking to put the beat back into its brand by reeling in the Palladia music channel and renaming it MTV Live — part of what network executives said is a strategic move to better define its digital music networks.

Last Monday’s (Feb. 1) renaming of Palladia, which offers live music concert footage and along with other music programming — along with the recent rebranding of MTV Jams and VH1 Soul under the BET brand — is part of a broader strategy that the company hopes will provide greater synergies across its music brands.

“These [rebrands] open up opportunities that we will have with other [MTV] networks in the future,” Tom Feie, vice president of program planning for MTV, said.

While Feie would not get specific about future moves within the MTV family of networks, he said music programming is still a valuable asset for linear services like MTV and BET that appeals to core young viewers. Other MTV/ BET/VH1-branded music services include MTV Hits, VH1 Classic, BET Gospel, BET Hip Hop, BET Jams and BET Soul.

“Music is extremely valuable content,” he said. “There are a variety of platforms where you’ll be able to get music, but for the [experience] of sitting and watching a complete concert, festival or highlight show with HD sound, TV is still the best place to get that.”

With regard to Palladia’s rebranding as MTV Live, Feie said that the network, which launched as MHD: Music High Definition in 2006, will remain a source for live concert content, as well as such music series as Live From Daryl’s House and Later … With Jools Holland. The 42 million-subscriber network is in negotiations with distributors of various concert festivals that Feie hopes to bring to the network, he added, although he would not disclose specifics.

The changes come as cable networks look to feature more high-profile, music-themed programming this month. BBC America on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) will present a concert special featuring pop star Adele. The special, Adele: Live in London, will be hosted by Graham Norton and feature the singer-songwriter performing songs from her hit album 25 as well as some of her classic tracks, according to the network.

Also on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), HBO will debut its new drama series Vinyl, which explores the 1970s rock music scene. Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano star in the series, which is produced by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and director Martin Scorsese.

Last month, Amazon’s classical music-themed comedy Mozart in the Jungle took home two Golden Globe Awards for best comedy and best actor in a television series for series star Gael García Bernal.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.