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MTV Networks Searches for its Online Mojo

Billboard reports that just as Urge faces dominant competition from iTunes, MTV was outflanked in the social networking boom when its parent company, Viacom, in 2005 lost out to News Corp. on the bidding for MySpace. Since the acquisition, MySpace's usage has quadrupled, and only the video-sharing site YouTube has come anywhere close to matching its success.

As a company that built its brand as a meeting place for young adults, pop culture and music, MTV will not meekly surrender that digital turf to MySpace and YouTube.

"We know we want to be in social networking, and we know that's where our audience is," says MTV president Christina Norman. "But it's important for us to approach this in the right way and not have another 'me too' application." One strategy is to extend many of MTV's social outreach efforts like Rock the Vote, sexual health campaigns and town-hall-style meetings with politicians into an online community.

On the entertainment front, MTV is readying a number of services that let users post their own content and interact with MTV's content on multiple platforms. Norman says to expect specifics "in the next couple of months."

Content is still king for a company whose programming includes not only vast volumes of music videos but also original series like "The Real World," "Beavis and Butt-Head" and "Punk'd." Yet the challenge and the opportunity in an age with multiple delivery platforms is to determine which content works best via what channel.

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