At Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) in Barcelona, MTV introduced their mobile TV app, MTV Under the Thumb, which allows people to co-view content and chat live while they are viewing. In addition, users can share favorite shows on Facebook (News - Alert) or pair their mobile device with a PC web browser, essentially turning the device into a remote control or a second screen.
Some shows initially available for viewing include Teen Mom, Jersey Shore and I Used to be Fat. In addition, the program offers news, previews, celebrity gossip and a “What’s Hot” section. Subscriptions are offered at three levels for viewing content: “Tiny Thumb” is free, “Super Thumb” for 2.99 Euros per month of 29.99 Euros per year, and “Ultra Thumb” for free access to all shows if you have an MTV mobile handset.
The app is available on both Android and iOS platforms, but for now it is only available in Europe. “But of course the U.S. is aware and is following what we are doing. All the content is cleared and we have buy-in from at the Viacom (News - Alert) level but no short term plans to launch it there,” said Michel Dupont, senior vice president of MTV in Europe.
The U.S. does have MTV’s WatchWith app, which allows users to view photos, blog posts and video clips and to leave comments that can be shared with others who view the app. However, WatchWith lacks the real-time features and interactivity of Under the Thumb.
Last year, MTV enjoyed its highest ratings in five years, thanks to Vinny and Snooki and the Jersey Shore team, which is the top-rated show in MTV’s 18 to 34 demographic and even outperformed Fox stalwart American Idol. This jump was 27 percent above numbers from 2010. With the app, MTV hopes to move its success to the second screen, thanks to the percentage of people aged 18 to 34 who use mobile devices.
For future improvements to the Under the Thumb app, MTV hopes to increase co-viewing to include communal viewing and chat with celebrities from MTV’s reality shows. Other Viacom divisions outside of MTV may also make use of the Under the Thumb technology.
Edited by Jennifer Russell