Asian-American MTV

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]

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4 comments on “Asian-American MTV
  1. gman says:

    I’m just guessing but my personal experience is there are tons of Indian immigrants and tons of Chinese immigrants. They have a connection with their old culture either directly having moved to the states or through their parents being the first generation to move.
    I have no Japanese American friends like this. All of my Japanese American friends are 3rd gen or more meaning except for a few family traditions they have little if any connection to native Japanese culture. In fact most of the Americans I know into J-Pop are not of Japanese decent. That would suggest if they were to have a J-POP MTV audience they would be targeting something else entirely than the other channels mentioned.

  2. Jack says:

    J-pop is so 1999 🙂 I’d consider it to be on the decline while Korean pop culture seems to be on the upswing even in Japan (if the popularity of BOA and Fuyu no Sonata are any indication).
    The statistics here http://www.asian-nation.org/population.shtml tell the story about potential audience. The real question is where is the Filipino MTV?

  3. Would you guess that the people outside Japan listening to J-Pop are actually Japanese and/or Japanese-Americans?
    I tend to picture the market to be more non-asian Americans, the Anime crowd or whatever.
    (Of course, I am pretty disconnected from anything MTV-ish…)
    Just curious…

  4. missai says:

    Hi Gen, Ai here from Japantoday’s half-Japanese article a few months back (^^).
    I agree with gman, Jack, and Jim O’Connell. Whereas Indian, Chinese, and Korean-descent Americans seem to have nurtured a very active and unique lifestyl/identity in the US, I haven’t heard of or experienced anything close to what those groups have in the Japanese-American community there. Maybe there just isn’t a big enough audience for the Japanese-American crowd??
    Regardless, it’s totally awesome that MTV is doing those 3 new shows!