Music media giant MTV apparently is looking to expand its
online presence into a new vein: Net radio.
The firm recently was in talks to buy Spinner.com, a privately held Net radio
firm formerly known as TheDJ.com, according to sources close to the talks.
The sources said talks broke down when the parties couldn't agree on a price.
Spinner representatives declined comment. Matt Farber, senior vice
president of programming for MTV
Networks, declined to comment about Spinner or MTV's other plans for an
online radio venture. But a move into Net radio is a logical step for MTV.
"It makes perfect sense for them," said Mark Mooradian, senior analyst at
Jupiter Communications. "Every national media property that's involved with
music is going to go into online programming."
He pointed to the Rolling Stone
Network, which, along with an array of music content, offers online
radio powered by RealNetworks. He characterized it as a "brilliant idea,"
and said that although the site only offers one station, "I guarantee you
that a year from now there will be half a dozen."
Spinner was not the first or only radio firm to pique MTV's interest. Brad
Porteus, vice president of marketing for Imagine Radio, noted that his
company and MTV "ran into each other at [trade show] WebNoize, and
we talked about trying to get together."
Though Porteus characterized Imagine Radio's contact with MTV as "casual
conversations," he noted that MTV "seems to be interested in getting into
the [Net radio] space," and that the company implied it would be
making significant moves there.
With the Web music space maturing, players are continuing to seek ways to
make their investments in the medium pay off. MTV has had a significant and
popular online presence for a long time by Web standards, so it is not
surprising that it would look to newer technologies and programming
opportunities for its evolution online.
Another factor playing a part in MTV's moves is the promise of
significantly faster Net access becoming available to the masses. With
broadband in mind, many companies--most recently portals such as America
Online, Yahoo, Snap, and Excite--are ramping up their efforts to offer
content that takes better advantage of Web technologies such as on-demand
rich audio and video.
Another offline media giant, Warner
Bros., which recently launched a "destination" site, also is planning
an array of content for faster access.
"Broadband is our Holy Grail," Jim Banister, executive vice president of
Warner Bros. Online, said when the site, ACMEcity, launched. "Warner Bros. is a
broadband company in a narrowband body. ACMEcity is part of a broader
entertainment programming play that Warner Bros. is starting to really go
One of ACMEcity's plans for a revenue stream from the site when broadband
takes hold is to offer audio and video programming exclusively online for a
fee, according to Richard Jones, cofounder of FortuneCity, Warner Bros.
Online's partner in the venture.
MTV, which was built on offering a new kind of content when it began
showing music videos in the 1980s, is in a strong position to do the same
thing because it is such a big force among teens and college students. With
the audience it wields, MTV has the power to offer popular content either
for a fee or with the knowledge that it can charge a premium for
advertising as it can on TV.
Imagine Radio's Porteus added: "Broadband sounds like it's going to be the
buzz word for 1999. That's great news for us--and anyone who does streaming
Although MTV's bid for Spinner didn't work out, the sources said it will be
making an announcement involving a Net radio push in the coming weeks.