MNT Pitches Novelas and New Platforms

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In its inaugural pitch to advertisers, Fox’s startup MyNetworkTV (MNT) pushed its year-round slate of English-language telenovelas—dubbed “short dramatic series”—and original content for the Internet and mobile phones.

“If you want to be successful, you need to find a way to be new and different,” Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox Television Stations, said at the network’s upfront presentation Tuesday in New York. What makes MNT different, he said, is its programming and scheduling tactics. With its dramas, MNT is importing the short-run, serialized novela format that is popular internationally but relatively unproven in network prime time. It will run the shows as five-night-per-week strips with a weekend recap for 13 weeks.

Said Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy, “This is not unlike the last programming phenomenon to come from overseas: reality.” 

Fox and Twentieth Television executives provided a glimpse of the upcoming dramas, three under the banner of Desire and three more as Secret Obsessions. All are original Twentieth Productions, providing advertisers with easy opportunities for product placement and brand integration, MNT execs said. For example, in one drama, the vixen pulls up in a Lexus and the camera lingers on the brand’s emblem on the car grill.  In a more obvious plug, an actress sidles up to a bar and orders a Smirnoff Ice.

Taking a page from sister News Corp. company MySpace.com, MNT execs say they are building an interactive and video-heavy Web site. On mynetworktv.com, the network plans to feature 3,000 original video clips related to its dramas, as well as related content such as fashion tips from a fashion-themed drama and recipes from a novela star who is a chef. Also on its Web site, MNT execs say there will be ample opportunities for sponsorships and advertisements. Users will be able to send clips by e-mail and to mobile phones, and participate in blogs and online viewing parties.

Since unveiling the network in February, MNT has signed up affiliates in 82% of the country and 26 of the top 30 markets. By launch, the network says it will reach 90% of U.S. homes.

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