MTVN Pins Down Web Fare

Take the nonstop grappling and punching action of the mixed martial arts genre, add a little spice in the form of two model-ready ladies, splash in the viral nature of the Web and you have the makings of a hit Web show that could translate into an on-air franchise if MTVN Entertainment Group has it way.

In an effort to combine the best of the Web with its on-air cable ventures, the MTVN Entertainment Group is scouring the Internet for originally produced shows like MMA Girls — in which two women act out the various submission and pin moves seen in Ultimate Fighting Championship and other mixed-martial-arts bouts — to feature on its Web site, and hopefully to exploit on such MTVN cable properties as Spike TV.

As both iFilm and Spike TV seek to reach young, male viewers, the ability to create new on-air properties from originally-produced Web content is something MTVN Entertainment Group executive vice president of digital media Erik Flannigan hopes to successfully pin down.

The two properties are already linked through a mouse-click: in August MTV merged, which MTV purchased in 2005, with the Web site for 96 million basic-cable network Spike TV ( Spike and MTVN officials would not reveal unique viewer or video stream information for the sites.

One of the more popular shows on the site is MMA Girls. The series, created by two blonde South African-born women named Joanne and Lauren, can also be accessed through its dedicated site ( Six MMA Girls episodes currently on the site have generated more than 270,000 views. “The videos demonstrate some of the chokeholds and moves that are done on the UFC, but it's no joke,” Flannigan said.

Flannigan said he hopes to take advantage of the girls' knowledge of the MMA genre and the popularity of their show to have them appear in some form or fashion on Spike TV's UFC-related programming.

Spike officials said the network is exploring opportunities to feature the girls on the network, but has yet to secure a vehicle.

Flannigan said MTVN will use the merged as an aggregator for some of the best independently-produced content on the Web

“We love that notion of finding content out of user-generated-content-land and giving it a home,” he said. “We're looking at the site as an acquisition play and less of an original-content development play.”

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.