VIVA is a free-to-air 24-hour German language music and entertainment channel launched on December 1, 1993 in Germany. The channel was originally operated by private German media group VIVA Fernsehen GmbH until 2004 when the brand was acquired by MTV Networks Europe.
As of 2010, MTV Networks Europe continue to operate VIVA channels in Germany and Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary and the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland
VIVA TV was previously owned by a private German music television channel located in Cologne. It was founded in 1993 by a shareholder group led by Time Warner and headed up initially by Dieter Gorny to compete with MTV, the market leader at the time. Being the first music channel to broadcast in German, VIVA was able to secure a close lead in the ratings for the target audience.
On 21 March 1995 a second channel, VIVA Zwei ("VIVA Two"), was created, concentrating on lesser known and more independently produced music. On 7 January 2002 it was renamed VIVA Plus and its concept changed to a channel dedicated purely to pop and mainstream music for a younger generation of viewers. VIVA Plus shut down on January 14, 2007. It became Comedy Central Deutschland the next day.
Since 1995, VIVA has a pop music award ceremony with the annual Comet. *In 2003, VIVA openly expressed an anti-Iraq War view. Later that year, VIVA got bad press after it was discovered that VIVA had given Universal Music an unfair advantage in the placement of their music videos. Today, the company is divided into the "VIVA Fernsehen GmbH", "VIVA Plus Fernsehen GmbH", "Brainpool TV GmbH", and "VIVA Media Enterprises".
Since 2004, the main shareholder is the media company Viacom (98%), which also owns MTV, the main competitor to VIVA, creating a virtual monopoly in German music television. Following the acquisition of VIVA by Viacom, VIVA has been based in Berlin, where MTV Germany is based.
The concept behind VIVA originated in 1992, when the major record labels were frustrated by MTV Europe's decision to program in English to the Germanophone markets and what was perceived as its refusal to play major German-speaking artists. Tom McGrath, then President of Time Warner International Broadcasting, assembled a group of record labels that included Warner Music, EMI Music, Sony Television along with Frank Otto, APAX partners, and DoRo Productions from Austria (Rudy Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher).
With Dieter Gorny brought on board to lead the channel the group applied for cable carriage licenses in the various German Bundesländer, a process that took almost one year. DoRo designed the original programming format which while clearly a music video channel, sought to differentiate itself from MTV not just by having a German speaking voice, but by speaking directly to the differences in pop culture between Germany and the anglophone MTV.
Ironically, before launching the channel, the labels offered to fund MTV in a German speaking version, but were rejected by MTV management at the time who espoused a "one world, one language" programming philosophy (at least for Europe since their Latin American Channels used Spanish and Portuguese).
After MTV introduced a German language version of itself, the competition between the two stations increased. VIVA was widely perceived as the more mainstream oriented channel for younger viewers, while MTV Germany was directed at youths and young adults with some more edgier programming. Since the acquisition of VIVA by Viacom, MTV Germany mostly broadcasts reality TV shows.
VIVA has become the music channel with chart shows and other similar programmes, which are mostly directed at a mainstream audience. Viacom has introduced a programming scheme that allows the station to be run by just 40 people, as a result many previous employees were made redundant.
From January 2011, under a major shake-up at MTV Networks Germany, VIVA continues to be part of MTV Networks Germany's free-to-air package and the channel will become the main music and entertainment brand within Germany while complemented by its sister channels MTV Germany and MTV Brand New. VIVA Germany will receive a new look and on-air branding from January 1, 2011. The new look VIVA will focus on music programming while utilizing existing programming from MTV Networks Germany's channels such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.
MTV Networks Baltic think about VIVA Baltic, but MTV Networks Baltic was closed 2009.11.18 with about 3 000 000 EUR debt.