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NTV Live Conversation: Mika Salmi, MTVN

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Mika Salmi, President of Global Digital Media for MTV Networks, has years of online experience, dating back to his work at RealNetworks and AtomFilms. “Good, we can ask him tough questions,” Om quipped. Salmi admitted in the first question that he’s all about the cartoons. “I like to watch a lot of animation,” he said.

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Looking at the development of Viacom’s online properties Salmi stressed that the key is pushing content out to wherever the consumers are. “We want to be where the are consumers at.” Consumers want to dive and interact with the media, it’s not only about destination sites, though interactive community sites are also being built around the individual properties, Salmi explained. Be it on Joost, on DailyShow.com, or embedded on personal blogs, Salmi explained; “We’re building out all of our websites and our approach is to be close to user.”

In response to Om’s prodding in regards to YouTube, Salmi couldn’t comment on “what offer YouTube could make that you couldn’t refuse.” “Come on! Throw a number out there,” Om goaded. Viacom, MTV’s parent company, is still at odds with the video sharing giant.

With 30 brands, over 300 websites, and nearly 80 mobile platforms Salmi is trying to streamline and integrate them all. It’s easy to have all these niche markets fracture and fragment, but the question is how you meld them and work with the potential synergy there. Salmi stressed the importance of not forgetting the power of pushing traffic both ways between television and the web, citing Colbert Nation as a very effective property in that sense. “We’re building out all of our websites and our approach is to be close to user.” He said Viacom is forecasting $500 million in digital revenue this year, mostly from advertising.

Salmi spoke of how AtomFilms might serve as a testing ground for potential new television content saying that if the writer’s strike continues they will seriously consider finding new talent online. On the other side, he was glad that The Daily Show and Colbert Nation have such strong web presences and that there was a spike in traffic last week at the start of the strike.

Om closed by asking Salmi to look into his crystal ball: “Give us your forecast of what online video will look like in 2009.” “2009? That’s just around the corner!” Salmi protested. “I think the ad model is going evolve very quickly in terms of user experience. There will be more long form video,” he said. “The connection to the living room will become clear. We’ll see at CES this year what’s going to be coming out.”

NOTE FROM LIZ: After we wrapped up, I mentioned to Salmi offstage that the Viacom video players (“loading…loading…”) could really use an overhaul. He said he felt my pain, and that all the players are being replaced in December. Apparently the current player on TheDailyShow.com is a preview of what we can expect.

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