The Stew is on at MTV

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Exactly nine months after MTV split its programming department into separate divisions for long- and short-form programming, the network has announced its first short-form programming. MTV has also launched a new broadband network, The Stew, where some of the short-form content will be housed.

MTV has green-lighted short-form programs in genres including music, animation and documentary, and is developing several others. New shows include My Tunes, in which a band comes up with a theme and then writes an original song based on pictures users send in; Chloe, a live action soap about teenage girls; and MTV Smashed, humorously re-cut footage from MTV shows and series.

“These are ideas that seem perfectly expressed in a shorter period of time - not everything is meant to be a narrative,” said Brian Graden, President of Entertainment, MTV Networks Music Group/Logo in an interview with B&C. The slate aims to both be “creator-friendly,” incorporating content from users, and find new outlets for music programming, Graden says.

The short-form shows will be dispatched to a variety of MTV’s platforms including its linear TV network, broadband channel Overdrive and mobile devices. After MTV split its programming division, the company brought on several new staffers with new media experience. The new shows cull both their contributions and those that originated in other MTV divisions, such as the promotions group, music production and news.

“We’re starting with the philosophy ‘make great stuff,’ and then as we see it, we’ll decide where to go and how to make it famous enough so it isn’t tree falling in the forest, if you know what I mean,” Graden says.

To create more outlets for the short-form fare, MTV is creating several new broadband outlets to be rolled out throughout the fall. The first, The Stew, will exist as a channel within Overdrive and program the irreverent content similar to that featured on MTV’s Sunday Stew programming block.

Initial Stew programming includes some of the green-lighted short-form shows, as well as user-generated shows, clips from TV shows such as Jackass and Andy Milonakis and archival MTV video. Upcoming broadband channels will focus on music, news and gaming, MTV says.

MTV has started to put more money into the production of some of its short form content, especially in the narrative genres, while staying true to the gritty underground feel users have come to expect from the format.

“The ethos of the short-form world is very raw very often, so what we’re trying to do is that we don’t necessarily slick everything up just because we can,” Graden says.

In addition to the green-lighted originals, MTV is developing several other short form shows. They include One Minute Master, a showcase of artists’ odd life skills; Just Us Squad, a comic book style expose of the music industry; and Gamer’s Chronicles, a docu-drama about New York City videogamers. The network expects to announce other projects soon.

“Who knows which of these will end up being culturally relevant or not,” says Graden. “You can expect more volume, but I also will be very candid to say that like everyone else we’re just sort of experimenting and having fun.”

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