New name aims for digitally savvy youth By Anne Becker
MTV has narrowed in on a name for its struggling Total Request Live show, or TRL: the more Web-friendly YouRL.
Executives have been working on the ratings-challenged video-countdown show, once MTV’s biggest audience draw, for months in an effort to make it more attractive to today’s digitally savvy youth, and they plan to unveil a revamped version this summer. The move comes as the music channel faces pressure to please a young audience increasingly happy to consume its video online.
A play on the technical term for a Web address, URL—”uniform resource locator”—YouRL invokes the Internet and fits the current trend of stressing personalization in naming digital projects (think News Corp.’s MySpace, Google’s YouTube and sister network Nickelodeon’s programming block ME:TV). MTV’s Hispanic-targeted digital-cable cousin—MTV Tr3s—calls its similar video-countdown show Mi TRL, or My TRL in English.
While the show is still in development, YouRL is the leading title, an MTV spokesperson confirmed. MTV executives have said that, when the show relaunches, online participation will be key.
TRL, launched in 1998, has fallen steeply in the ratings since its peak of 782,000 daily viewers in 1999 as its target 12-17 audience is distracted by ever more options for watching video online. The show averages about 375,000 viewers a day right now, according to Nielsen Media Research, and in March began taping two days a week to save money.
MTV in general has struggled to maintain its dominance as the definitively hip brand for teens as social-networking hubs like MySpace and avant-garde online video sites compete for its viewers’ affinity. But executives at the network have worked to solve that problem by introducing shows heavy on user-generated content and Websites tied to its existing TV series.