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MTN Network: The Arabian Challenge

Historical Overview

MTV is a cable music channel that was pioneered in 1981, marking the commencement of the cable TV revolution. A joint venture between Warner Communications and American Express, forming the Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company promoted the launch of MTV. This was in 1984 and the company restricted its operations to the US. The company targeted the 12-24 year age-group with its heavy metal and rap music signature.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. The company launched many sister channels, such as VH-1. It also diversified into other brands of music that was also considered popular not only among the youths, but also among the adults as well. Such music included rhythms and Blues. Moreover, the channels also started airing non-music programs such as talk-shows and cartoon series.

MTV launched its first overseas channel in Europe in 1987 and this marked the beginning of its global expansion. Now, the company has chosen to diversify into the Arabian market in spite of the crippling challenges associated with the conservative Middle East region.

Statement of the Problem

On November 17, 2007, MTV Networks ventured into a totally new market, along with totally new challenges. On this date, MTV Networks launched a new television station in the Arab world known as MTV Arabia. This was in conjunction with the local Arabian Television Network (ATN). This was all part of MTV’s global expansion strategy. Nevertheless, this strategy drew mixed reactions.

This was the most ambitious program MTV has ever held, but was the most challenging. Although the Middle East presented a large market for MTV products, owing to a huge population comprising of youths, there was need for a very tactical balancing between the delivery of international quality music and the culturally sensitive environment that engulfs the Middle East region.

MTV has been thriving by broadcasting sexually explicit content to the audience mainly from the West and the African continent, which mostly emulates the West. The problem and challenge in the Middle East is that the culture in this region is rather conservative and mostly treat matters concerning sexuality as no-go zones. Consequently, the company found itself facing a delicate balancing act that involved establishing a middle ground between internationally acclaimed music and the cultural sensitivities of the people in the Middle East.

Another challenging task facing MTV in its venture into the Middle East is adapting its programming to suit the Arab audience. This is because there are many countries that make up the Middle East region and each of them has a different approach to social, political and religious matters. For example, what may be acceptable in the UAE may be loathsome in Kuwait. Therefore, creating content that would cut across the entire region is a major weakness of MTV.

MTV also faces stiff competition in the television industry. This threatens its success in the Middle East, and this will be disastrous for MTV because it is spending a lot of resources on the diversification program. Some local stations are very popular among the Arabian audience since they broadcast in tandem with the Arab culture. One such station is Aljazeera.

Strategic Analysis

There are significant opportunities for MTV on the Arabian market. There is a great market potential for MTV products in the Middle East. MTV plans to collaborate with AMG in order to diversify its operations in the Middle East. This will enable the giant television station to air programs that appeal to a larger audience than before. The audience includes Arab children. This has been accomplished through the launch of nickelodeon Arabia.

Secondly, there is huge opportunity for MTV in embracing the multi-platform strategy approach to the market in the Middle East. This enables MTV to provide a wide variety of products to the market. These products include digital media, hotels and theme parks among others. This also enables it to stay ahead of its competitors.

MTV Network has various strengths that can enable it successfully launch its bid into the new Arabian markets. To begin with, it has a global outreach that gives it a competitive edge over other television networks. MTV can use its global outreach strength to provide not only entertainment, but also to showcase the musical talents of the Arab youths.

Moreover, MTV plans to diversify its programming. Apart from offering quality musical shows, the television station also plans to venture into talk-shows for the Arab youths. The talk-shows will provide a forum for the youth in the Middle East region to air their view on various topics of interest. This will attract viewership and propel the global television station to greater heights.


There are several alternatives open for MTV in its expansion bid in the Middle East.

  1. Partnering with other giant television and entertainment companies such as Paramount Pictures so as to venture into the movie industry and attract more audience.
  2. Diversifying into the Far East as well. The Far East may not be as culturally sensitive as the Middle East.
  3. Engaging in other businesses such as setting up tourist resort centers in the Middle East.
  4. Working in collaboration with local television stations to produce content that suits the audience in the Middle East.


  1. Identify and work with strategic partners in order to reduce the cost of the venture. The company may select local television companies to partner with. This will also help in acquiring the audience that has been loyal to the preferred local company.
  2. The company should consider diversifying into other related areas other than music shows. MTV can do well by creating a variety of programs that meet the needs of the Arab youth, who have been largely ignored due to a conservative culture. The company can create platforms on which the youth can present their views and opinions on the relevant issues of the day.
  3. Address the issue of culture so as to come up with programs that will resonate with the conservative audience of the Middle East.
  4. Create products that resonate with the culture of the Middle East without compromising on its global brand.
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