The MTV EMAs, the Viacom network brand’s biggest international music event of the year, will give fans new ways to experience and interact with the show.
MTV said Friday that it will air the red carpet pre-show and entire awards show in Milan via a virtual reality livestream that viewers in the U.S. and many international markets can access via the MTV EMA app this Sunday. The app is available globally and localized in various languages, including Brazilian/Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Latin American Spanish, Russian
and simplified Chinese.
The EMAs start at 9:00 p.m. CET, with the red carpet pre-show beginning at 6:45 p.m. CET. Viacom said the EMAs will be the first global music awards show to give fans this immersive experience for the entire event.
MTV said it is also partnering with Instagram to host a custom booth backstage at the awards show, inspired by Instagram’s just-launched Boomerang app. The booth will see music and Internet stars instagramming exclusive images and Boomerang videos throughout the event. Boomerang takes “a burst of photos and stitches them together into a high-quality mini video that plays forward and back,” according to the company.
In a third technology-focused announcement, MTV said that in the second phase of its international rebrand, it will debut MTV Canvas, a “sticker book” tool available at MTVbump.com that allows people to create and submit spots to possibly run on-air on MTV’s network of international channels.
The virtual reality livestream will be possible via cameras on the red carpet and in the main show. MTV said it will have two cameras in-house for the event. Fans will be able to choose where to look, “giving them a unique and individual interactive virtual reality experience,” MTV said. People can access the experience via the 2015 MTV EMA app and using a cardboard viewer. Fans without a viewer can still access a 360-degree viewing experience via the app.
“We are always looking at new ways to engage our audience and push boundaries,” said Viacom International Media Networks president and CEO Bob Bakish. “The MTV EMAs are one of the biggest nights of the year for us globally, so it makes sense to immerse viewers in this event live via virtual reality. “As the first global music award show to broadcast the full event live in VR, we’re giving young people around the world a front row seat to the incredible music, artists and unexpected moments that make this show epic.”
About MTV Canvas, Bakish said: “When our international channels evolved from ‘I want my MTV’ to ‘I am my MTV,’ we knew it would be critical to give our audience different entry points to play with the brand and truly make it their own. It’s fitting that we’d launch this tool on one of our biggest nights of the year, and we hope our audience uses MTV Canvas to continue the pop culture revelry in the wake of this year’s show.”
Asked why the virtual reality stream makes sense for the event and why now, Bakish tells THR: “We wouldn’t say that virtual reality is mainstream at this point, but it’s starting to gain traction. The MTV audience tends to be at the forefront driving the early adoption of new technologies. Since we’re always looking for new ways to connect with fans – we’re excited to experiment in this space.”
He adds: “If you’ve ever been to the MTV EMAs, you know the energy is incredible, the performances are powerful and the production is best-in-class. This technology lets fans who can’t be at the show experience it as if they are right in the middle of the action.”
Does he expect people watching the virtual reality stream to also watch the show on linear TV? “We assume those who view the VR stream will use it more as a second-screen experience, but we are really using this as a test case,” Bakish says.
Asked if there could be more virtual reality streams, he says: “It’s definitely a test case. Once you see a VR stream – especially for events and performances – you realize how powerful the future of our industry will be. We believe this technology can completely transform the audience’s interaction with live events and has huge potential to shift the way we approach storytelling. We know our audiences are leading the way on adopting new technologies and want to figure out with them how these immersive experiences go from pilot to mainstream.”