mtvU to launch U.S. campus guides online network

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc’s mtvU college cable network will launch an online network of campus guides, aiming to be the “Citysearch” of university life.

Pedestrians walk past a sign with the MTV logo on it below the MTV studios in Times Square New York December 12, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Working with college newspapers and Zvents, a local Internet search and advertising network, mtvU has created sites that offer listings for everything from local night life to bus and dining room schedules, an executive said.

“We’re simplifying students’ experience and providing national, regional and local advertisers a powerful connection to this hard to reach audience,” said Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU.

The notoriously fickle young adults and college crowd seen as the next generation of big media consumers is big business for programmers and a core target for MTV.

The news follows on the heels of the decision by News Corp’s Fox to air the premieres of its television series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Fringe” on television and over the Internet at the same time for students viewing on college campuses only.

MTV Networks, which has dominated youth programming for decades was seen losing some ground to Internet start-ups in recent years.

mtvU, a division of MTV Networks that broadcasts on 750 college campuses in the United States, is now moving more aggressively to make its programming and services more integral to its audience’s everyday life.

The online campus guides aim to be a “one-stop shop” destination for college students, Friedman said in a phone interview.

mtvU will launch 25 guides on Tuesday at colleges including Northwestern University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Pennsylvania.

Working closely with local college papers, the company is also in discussions with some to potentially launch print versions of the guides, Friedman said.

By the end of 2008, mtvU will launch a total of 50 daily guides.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Andre Grenon