MTV is late to launch music download service

MTV to launch music download service
MTV chief Tom Freston made the announcement Monday to investors and said the as-yet-unnamed service would debut within the first half of next year, but gave few details. In a Reuters news report, Freston said, “It will compete with iTunes and everyone else.” This should come as a surprise to no one, because Viacom, which owns MTV, announced plans for such a service in 2000 but dropped the idea when the Internet bubble burst. However, analysts are suggesting MTV will have a tougher time at this than you might think. “There’s no doubt it’s a strong brand, with a strong profile of viewers,” said Phil Leigh, senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, about MTV’s plans. “But they can’t rely solely on their brand come next year … After iTunes launched in April, MTV should have been like a hawk on a field mouse.” Apple’s iTunes has sold 13 million songs since it introduced a Windows version earlier this year.

Marketing gurus, Ries and Trout, taught that the market leader could generally thwart flanking moves, because its brand occupied the top position in the minds of consumers. That advice was written before the Internet and before Postmodernism entered the mainstream of the American culture. Despite its powerful brand, MTV is going to have only limited success with this venture, because it has snoozed while Apple (and now the new Napster) have moved boldly into this space. This is an important lesson for local TV stations to learn as they consider New Media options for the future. Video News On Demand WILL be the local news of the future, and it can be done by anyone, including the local newspaper. TV stations that choose to wait before entering this arena are risking brand loss in a world that cares less about loyalty than it does “I want what I want when I want it.”

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