Interaction via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will increasingly be embedded across all forms of traditional media consumption, according to Viacom, the network behind MTV and Nickelodeon.
Such trends were most immediately apparent within youth-oriented content but would eventually spread to media targeted at all age groups, said Raffaele Annecchino, the managing director of South Europe, Middle East and Africa, for Viacom International Media Networks.
“Our integration of social media was born with the MTV awards, where the core target market is between the ages of 16-25,” he said. “Now we’ve seen this phenomenon moving into the kids’ segment with Nickelodeon.”
The increased integration of social media would increasingly permeate all forms of television, said Mr Annecchino.
“I think that hyper-connection is something that is part of youth and kids’ life, but is soon going to be part of everyone’s life. In the end I think all of us will be part of this digital ecosystem. While Viacom’s brands are perhaps a more natural fit within this ecosystem, I think it will affect all types.”
Viacom has identified the Middle East as one of the key expansion markets worldwide, said Mr Annecchino.“There are 161 million between nine to 13 in the region, so it’s a great opportunity because this age group is our natural target. It’s my hope that we’ll have a much bigger presence here in the future.”
The company’s approach to social media is especially important in its regional strategy. Sixty-five per cent of nine to 14-year -olds in the Middle East have a social media account, compared with 61 per cent globally, he noted, with the average age for the opening of an account in Saudi Arabia 11.
Mr Annecchino said that the introduction of the Comedy Central channel to the region was one of the key priorities for Viacom’s Middle Eastern strategy in the short term. The company is in discussions with a number of local media companies to host the channel, and hopes to make an announcement within a year.