Skip to main content

MTV2 Gets Interactive with The Box

MTV Networks last week followed through on its previously reported plans to fold The Box Music Network, its interactive music channel, into diginet MTV2.

The move will provide the MTV: Music Television spin-off with much-needed subscribers as well as an interactive element that it hopes will make the service attractive to new viewers.

The new MTV2 will be based in New York and headed by general manager David Cohn, although The Box will maintain its production and technological headquarters in Miami for the foreseeable future.

It's unclear how many of the company's employees will remain in Florida, however.

The Box president and CEO Alan McGlade will continue to work with MTV: Music Television and MTV2 on the development of future interactive television applications.

With the merger and recently signed distribution deals with Time Warner Cable, AT & T Broadband and Comcast Corp., MTV2 will grow to 30 million subscribers, said MTV officials. Some cable systems have already notified subscribers of plans to add MTV2 and drop The Box as soon as next month.

The new deals give MTV2, a 24-hour music-video channel, a presence in the top 20 U.S. markets, including a launch on Time Warner Cable of New York City in December. Cohn said operators would not incur any additional licensing fees for the merged entity, although he would not give specific rate-card figures.

MTVN currently charges a monthly license fee of 38 cents per subscriber for its digital package referred to as The Suite-which includes MTV2 and eight other digital services-according to the programmer.

"We need to be flexible to adapt to the needs of our affiliates," Cohn said.

The Box's unique server-based, customizable programming format will now be offered as part of a four-hour afternoon block on MTV2 that will be localized for key markets, Cohn said. Though viewers will no longer have to pay to see their favorite videos, content will be chosen based on the most popular choices in a given market.

The network will also debut
l Freak,

a one-hour interactive show in which viewers will choose the videos that air. The network will add other applications using The Box's interactive technology in the near future, he said.

"We've been impressed with the technology and will work with The Box to see how that will carry over to MTV2," he said.

McGlade said the merger is a good fit for both companies.

"It's a very logical plan to move the business to the next level," he said. "We were the first significant innovators in interactive music television, and combined with the enormous leverage of the MTV brand will result in a very strong music service."

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.