MTV’s evolving strategy: Every Network That Rises Must Converge

[MTV’s Van] Toffler has a plan in motion to upgrade the network for the age of digital convergence, a strategy he has been known to refer to as “multi-plat-fornication”: an all-out effort to deliver MTV content to every form of technology imaginable, from mobile phones to digital cable to a Web-based on-demand channel called MTV Overdrive. “The people who tap into the rhythm of how this audience uses media, those are the ones who are going to win,” he said. “Our audience is full of multitaskers. They’re IM-ing and talking on the phone and doing their homework and watching TV all at the same time.”

The first big test of this new era takes place tonight, with the broadcast of the Video Music Awards, the network’s signature event. In addition to the traditional celebrity-studded ceremony (broadcast live from Miami at 8 Eastern time, and rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Pacific), viewers will also be offered backstage shots and bonus content simultaneously on the MTV Overdrive broadband channel: while watching an acceptance speech from, say, Coldplay on live television, a viewer can also be logged onto Overdrive and see Kanye West in his dressing room or the Killers performing outside American Airlines Arena. “It’s all about circulating people back and forth between the different screens,” Mr. Toffler explained.