Sky Italia has added a third free-to-air channel to its portfolio with the acquisition of a 100% stake in MTV Italia from Viacom International. As part of the agreement, the US media group will extend carriage agreements for its oother channels in Italy and will have the rights to air some MTV programming on the channel, including the MTV EMEA 2015 taking place in Milan this October. No financial terns for the deal were disclosed.
Viacom has already launched an interactive channel, MTV Next, on the satellite platform, and is expected to add teen-oriented network Teen Nick by the end of the year. Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr are already available on Sky Italia. The deal also includes the release of video-on-demand and mobile app services. Viacom will be offering content on Sky On Demand and will make its channels available on Sky Go in Italy.
Viacom has wholly Nuova Società Televisiva Italiana, the parent company of MTV Italia, since September 2013, when it acquired the 51% of the business it did not already own from Telecom Italia Media, paying €13.4 million. Sky already operates two free-to-air channels in Italy: generalist channel Cielo is offered on DTT and Freesat, while news channel Sky TG24 is available via satellite only.
With this deal, Viacom is moving away from Italy's free-to-air market - where Mediaset-owned Publitalia accounted for 60% of TV adspend in January, compared to less than 2% for MTV Italia. Viacom is instead focusing on strengthening its traditional pay and non-linear TV offerings. MTV is available without subscription for the time being in both Greece and Spain. Both Sky and Viacom will benefit from offering content through all of the established Viacom channel brands. By launching Nickelodeon and MTV apps in 2016, VIMN aims to attract the younger demographics and compete with the upcoming launch of Netflix this fall.
Sky on the other hand, already operates two free-to-air channels in Italy. Generalist channel Cielo is offered in DTT and Freesat while all-news channel Sky TG24 is available via satellite only. The broadcaster’s goal is to expand its free-to-air channel portfolio and compete with Mediaset, Rai and Discovery.Through this expansion it should be able broaden its reach and increase revenues coming from advertising. By securing exclusivity in carrying Viacom channels, Sky will also gain an edge over its main competitor, Mediaset Premium. Currently MTV Italia reaches 23.5 million households in Italy according to the IHS TV Channel Intelligence service.