MTV is planning 3 new channels aimed at Indian-Americans, Chinese-Americans and Korean-Americans.
That’s what MTV World is counting on as it introduces three new channels focusing on the growing population of young, acculturated Asian-Americans: first, MTV Desi, which will go on the air in late July; then MTV Chi, for Chinese-Americans, by the end of the year; and MTV K for Korean-Americans next year. The channels will not be merely tweaked reproductions of MTV India, MTV China or MTV Korea, three of MTV’s 42 channels abroad. Rather, they will, like their target audiences, be hybrids, blending here and there and grappling with identity issues, mostly in English.
MTV Desi will serve as the prototype. Interspersed among Bollywood videos, electronic tabla music and English-Gujarati hip-hop, it will feature brief documentary clips profiling desis, comic skits about South Asian-American generational conflicts, interviews with bicultural artists and desi house parties, live. MTV Chi will mix up Mandarin rock, Canto pop and Chinese-American rap; MTV K will tap into South Korean hip-hop and the little-known but vibrant Korean-American pop scene. MTV Desi will start on satellite nationally and then move to digital cable systems in various parts of the country.
MTV World’s premise for these new channels was commonsensical: that young bicultural Americans have tastes different from those of youths in their ethnic homelands and therefore need, as it were, a customized MTV.
While I do think these channels will provide content that heretofore was only easily available to Americans via bittorrent, or other p2p networks, it’s interesting that MTV/Viacom has consciously decided not to target the Japanese-American market or create a J-pop station. I can imagine that the marketers and business planners look at the size of the target audience to make their decisions. Plus, it sounds like the executives they hired are from the target audience.
J-Pop is far and away the most successful of the Asian pop music market. J-pop has crossed over into niche markets outside of Japan in Asia as well as niches in the US and Europe. While I don’t want to take anything away from the other audiences, who deserve this exposure as well as anyone else, I do find Viacom’s strategy interesting.
Anything that can be done to break up the monotony of the monoculture of the US is worthwhile. If these new MTV channels can move the needle even a little, it will be worth it.
I Want My Hyphenated-Identity MTV [nytimes.com]