MTV Analysis - June 2011

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* Bold denotes programming change


MTV's schedule is constantly changing.  They usually have at least 3 nights of primetime first-run programs, while the other nights are either re-runs or other specials.  They fill gaps in the schedule by showing feature films and a few acquired series relevant to their audience.  The timeslots leading up to premieres are usually a marathon of episodes of weeks' past.  They rely on a lot of repetition in the form of marathons, especially on the weekends.  They also make good use of tent poling by scheduling longstanding reliable series like THE REAL WORLD at 10pm and new, untested content either right before or at 10:30 or 11pm.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / June 2011 vs. June 2010 (% Change)





Monday 8-11pm





Tuesday 8-11pm





Wednesday 8-11pm





Thursday 8-11pm





Friday 8-11pm





Saturday 8-11pm





Sunday 8-11pm





MTWTFSS 8-11pm





Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Once again, both JERSEY SHORE and TEEN MOM were absent from MTV’s schedule during the month of June.  While the network missed the presence of its two strongest shows, MTV still managed to post fair numbers.

Though yearly change was flat in terms of live broadcasts, inclusion of live+7 ratings (which incorporate a week’s worth of DVR views into the equation) boosted yearly growth considerably. Simply because MTV viewers aren’t making original telecasts a priority, doesn’t mean shows go unwatched in the long run. For example, while the total live P18-49 ratings were down -9% compared to last year, they actually rose by 18% when +7 was taken into account.

Regardless of which ratings system is being employed, the annual MTV MOVIE AWARDS was far and away the biggest winner for the month.  The show was female-skewing but also attracted a sizable male audience as well. The event premiered on a Sunday – helping make that night of the week the most prominent night for the month.

The award show was down a hair from last year overall but the female audience grew significantly. This young, female audience carried over into the much-publicized remake of the 80’s (pseudo) classic TEEN WOLF. But even though women were interested in the premiere of MTV’s latest drama, men appeared less enthused.

Last year, THE HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER followed the 2010 awards and attracted a greater audience overall (and a much larger male audience.)  Considering WOLF is MTV’s latest scripted push following the SKINS debacle, these numbers were another disconcerting blow for the network’s goal of a scripted overhaul. Following the premiere, the numbers dropped somewhat before leveling out – assuaging initial fears that MTV had another SKINS on their hands.

In fact, WOLF has transformed into MTV’s highest rated new series of 2010 and 2011, locking in a renewal for the second season.

The AMERICA’S BEST DANCE CREW finale was another bright spot for the network.  DANCE served as the opening act for the MOVIE AWARDS and proved to be a strong lead-in: ratings were up from the 2010 lead-in as well as the show’s fifth season finale.

The biggest series for the month was the third season of 16 AND PREGNANT, which aired premiere episodes on Tuesday (the second biggest night of the week.)  June featured the final three episodes of the season – all of which cracked the list of the top ten telecasts for the month.  The finale was especially impressive, bringing in a sizeable male audience for the very female-skewing show.

The 21st season of THE CHALLENGE also debuted this month and was met with a warm reception.  While the show is female-skewing, the reality show attracted a much stronger male audience than nearly all of MTV’s June programming.

In comparison, fellow reality competition show THE REAL WORLD – now in its 25th season – failed to attract the same ratings from either demo.


MTV is the mecca for all that’s young and “what’s next.”  Although the network no longer focuses exclusively on music (in fact, they dropped ‘music television’ from their logo), there is a distinct music flavor to the network, even when the shows (like THE REAL WORLD or TEEN MOM) don’t necessarily have anything technically musical about them.

Despite MTV’s best efforts to gravitate away from reality programming, the platform is simply too successful to dump.   Recently, an MTV programmer contacted us to report that, “With our recent hits like TEEN MOM and JERSEY SHORE, we find that our audience wants to see some of their own lives reflected in the programs they watch.” Look for new reality shows to have a similar flavor to MTV’s most popular franchises.  One example of an upcoming show with strong ties to past programming is a starring vehicle for JERSEY SHORE favorite Pauly D.

MTV continues to eye new material that fits with their present repertoire of programs. The network’s youthful audience enjoys seeing on-screen characters that relate in some way to their own lives.  While reality TV has been the preferred medium in recent years, MTV is focused on delivering more scripted teenage drama.

MTV’s vision of a full-blown network overhaul met its first major defeat with the cancellation of the disappointing SKINS.  MTV execs expected the show (whose previous incarnation was a massive hit abroad) to spearhead the network’s transition into a new era of programming. Despite the failure of this initial foray, MTV remains committed to the scripted genre.

“The scripted presence of our network is a very important part of our plan,” said David Janollari, President of Programming. “And we’re in it for the long run.”

Scripted concepts on the horizon include THE INBETWEENERS, TEEN WOLF, and LOST IN THE WOODS.  Descriptions for each of these may be found in the “Development” section of our MTV Analysis. The network is also reviving two familiar faces – BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD – as it looks to incorporate new animated shows into its schedule.

Janollari freely admits that the transition process is an uncertain entity: “The whole introduction of scripted programming to the MTV slate is very new. We’re one step at a time, brick-by-brick building its presence. We believe it will be very embraced by our audience.”

MTV’s General Manager, Stephen Friedman explains this ambitious transition: “We held on to Generation X a little too long, and our programming reflected that.  MTV needs to shed its skin every three years.  We had to ask ourselves: what does this younger audience want? And the answer was brutal honesty.”

In a recent interview Janollari mentioned that 12 to 24-year-olds are the network’s vital demo and that, “Our mantra is to diversify the landscape of the network. We want to offer a multitude of genres to our audience. We believe that our core audience – the millennial generation – watches all kinds of entertainment: scripted comedies, scripted dramas, animation and reality shows. They watch movies; they watch entertainment on the Internet. Our idea is to offer original series programming in what ever form it takes to this audience with the core brand of DNA of what’s relevant to their lives; what resonating with the millennial viewers today.