MTV Launching on Free TV in Germany

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Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) will on Friday announce plans to launch an unencrypted, free-to-air version of MTV in Germany.

Viacom already operates free TV versions of its Comedy Central and Nickelodeon channels in Germany, as well as free-to-air network Viva, a German-focused music channel.

By shifting its iconic music and youth brand to free-TV in the territory, the media conglomerate is making a bid for a bigger chunk of Germany's $5.4 billion television ad market. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Raffaele Annecchino, President and Managing Director for VIMN, Southern & Western Europe, Middle East and Africa, said Viacom's goal was to boost the company's share in Germany from its current position of around 3.4 percent to 5 percent.

Viacom's international television business is still mainly in cable and pay-TV but in several countries, the company has been pushing into the free-TV sphere. In 2014, Viacom bought Britain’s Channel 5 for $725 million and last year picked up Argentina’s free-TV network Telefe for $345 million in cash. Just this September, VIMN acquired an Italian digital free-to-air frequency in order to launch an unencrypted local version of its Spike channel, and took a 50 percent stake in Italian kids channel Super! Viacom also operates free-to-air versions of its Paramount Channel in Spain and Italy.

"Given the current fragmentation, achieving audience scale is becoming more important," said  Annecchino, explaining the reasons behind the move into free-TV in select international territories.

Viacom will bow the free-to-air version of MTV Germany on Dec. 23 with three episodes of music documentary series Dare to Live starring Rory Kramer and featuring talent including Shawn Mendes, Martin Garrix and the Chainsmokers.

The network plans to invest in local-language production and will kick off its free TV launch with two German formats: MTV Buzz, a music video highlights program hosted by local host Uli Brase; and a charts show, which will launch with a top 100 year-ender looking back at the hits of 2017.

Annecchino said the standard line-up on MTV Germany will be a mix of local and international content with a strong focus on music: With some 13 hours of music per day.

Viacom has a standing partnership with German media group Alex Springer in Visoon, a local ad sales joint venture.

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