Vevo wants to become the next MTV — and its new Apple TV app is a crucial step

Vevo’s new Apple TV app. Vevo

Vevo wants to become the next MTV, and has released a new app for Apple TV that pushes, incrementally, in that direction. The company also released a new Android app as well.

Many people know Vevo as the company that provides all the official videos to YouTube (yes, that little icon at the bottom). But since 2013, when it launched its first app, Vevo has tried to be more than that.

CEO Erik Huggers gave a glimpse of Vevo’s vision in a press announcement for Thursday’s app releases. “We continue to invest in what we believe is the premium platform for music videos and related original content,” he said. This platform he’s talking about sounds a lot like MTV before it went all-in on reality TV.

What’s changed

Vevo has been quietly building a multi-platform brand apart from YouTube for a few years, though it hasn’t quite captured the public’s imagination. But as television streaming boxes like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV become more popular among young cord-cutters, Vevo has a chance to become a true “channel” in a way it’s not on the smartphone.

Because it’s built around music videos, Vevo could have a natural tvOS advantage over music-only rivals like Spotify and Pandora — an advantage it certainly doesn’t have on smartphones. Even on a laptop, using YouTube to search for the next Vevo clip feels more natural than letting a Vevo app choose. But streaming boxes could be a place for Vevo to build a lasting brand. Just put on the app and lean back.

It’s not surprising, then, that head of product Mark Hall says he’s much more excited about the Apple TV app than the Android one. It feels like a place Vevo could make progress.

What Vevo needs to do

Hall says the key to Vevo’s success as its own entity lies in harnessing the power of its massive catalogue (which Vevo has courtesy of its major label founders).

“Right now, Vevo is great if your taste is aligned to the Top 40,” Hall says. But the service has over 160,000 videos, and Hall says he wants to unlock that potential by making Vevo’s apps smarter and more personally relevant to users. This is a sentiment we have heard echoed at streaming companies like Spotify and Pandora.

Vevo is always careful with how it talks about YouTube, and Hall is no exception to the rule. Google owns part of Vevo and YouTube drives the vast majority of its traffic. But it’s clear that things like Apple TV have Vevo imagining a brand identity separate from YouTube.

“We are at 1% of our product ambition,” Hall says. But it’s a start.

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