MTV International starts its vertical push with fitness

MTV International is capitalizing on the January health kick by launching MTV Fit on Facebook and Instagram, the first of several content verticals the entertainment channel plans to launch this year.

The content from MTV Fit focuses on nutrition and mental well-being as well as fitness workouts, but from a body positive and inclusive viewpoint, according to the company. Alongside 60-second upper-body workout videos are social-friendly recipe videos for “mesmerizing” smoothie recipes and reviews of apps that boost mental health.

A fitness editor and a video producer manage the vertical. MTV International’s content team, mostly based in London, produces roughly 10 pieces of fitness content daily across platforms, mainly Facebook and Instagram for now. Videos are roughly 60 seconds, but MTV plans to expand into streaming longer Facebook Live workouts focusing on specific areas, like core or leg workouts. In the coming months, MTV Fit will increase content it produces in areas that prove popular with audiences.

“We’re starting to diversify more, creating an ecosystem of communities, rather than, ‘This is all MTV,’” said Joanna Wells, vp of digital content for MTV International. “Pop culture is so general. People have various different interests; we want to explore those.” She added that beauty and gaming are the next two verticals MTV is exploring. In the U.S., MTV has MTV News but hasn’t pursued content verticals.

MTV Fit videos also feature series with MTV talent, like reality TV celebrity Vicky Pattison, competitive pole dancer David Skowronek and personal trainer Tyrone Brennand. The videos are created to be easy to translate, with limited text, so they can be shared to MTV’s international accounts.

On Facebook, organic video views for MTV Fit videos range from between 20,000 views, like this video about making ice cubes out of leftover wine, and half a million views, like this video of a workout with “Geordie Shore” star Sophie Kasaei. MTV published fitness content on its international and French Snapchat Discover channels when MTV Fit launched Jan. 1. The completion rates on the Snapchat editions in both regions were higher than they were in 2017, according to Wells. It’s still early, but the numbers are an early indicator that audiences are interested in the content, she added.

“Conversations and engagement building is more important than X amount of views,” said Wells. “Repeat usage, strong completion rates, coming back to the site and interacting, that’s the key.”

In crowded Facebook feeds, brands that don’t differentiate struggle. For this reason, hands-in-a-pan recipe videos are declining in engagement. Aside from a focus on inclusive content, Wells noted MTV’s color palette, use of graphics and “simple but quick” visual editing style across all its content, including MTV Fit, as aspects that make its content stand out.

MTV is looking for brands to sponsor its fitness content, a model it has seen some success with in Australia with Adidas, although Wells wouldn’t share which other brands are interested. The move to create more niche content has its pros and cons: Audiences are smaller but usually more targeted and therefore engaged, often proving more effective for advertisers. Verticals could shrink the pool of potential advertisers, but there’s space for mainstream brands to work with MTV Fit, with its inclusivity angle and broad view of fitness and health, according to John Thomson, head of media at 360i.

“One of the key things was, fitness doesn’t have to be expensive, aspirational or unattainable. This can be done at home or in the street rather than spending loads of money at the gym,” said Wells. “We don’t want only ripped people doing the workouts. We won’t pretend people don’t have a Mars bar once in a while. Nobody is perfect; we don’t want to make people feel bad about themselves.”

Image courtesy of MTV Fit via Facebook

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