MTV Hits Its Demographic

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Capped by the strong debut of its new "Sunday Stew" franchise, MTV: Music Television enjoyed its strongest month ever with a key demographic.

With the Oct. 26 debut of the Sunday-night block — comprised of Punk'd, Viva La Bam, Wildboyz and One Bad Trip
— scoring extremely well with persons 12 to 34, MTV delivered an average of 756,000 such viewers last month, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

In addition to those shows, installments of three other programs — the season finale of Nick and Jessica: Newlyweds (a 3.0 on Oct. 21), The Real World: Paris (a 3.0 the same night) and Real World/Road Rules Challenge (a 2.2 on Oct. 20) — all scored a 2.0 rating or more against the demo. Network officials said that marked the first time MTV had seven shows score that highly in a week against that target.

Good For Graden

As MTV and VH1 president of entertainment Brian Graden said, "It was good to be at MTV [last] week."

Punk'd, the prank show created by actor Ashton Kutcher, scored a best ever 3.0 household rating and some 3.6 million total viewers on Oct. 26, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen data. Among persons 12 to 34, the show (which bowed at 9 p.m. that night) averaged a 3.6 rating and 2.5 million of those watchers.

Viva La Bam, following the skateboarding and home-life exploits of boarder Bam Margera, notched a 2.9 among the 12-to-34 set (2.03 million). Wildboyz, in which former Jackass stars Steve-O and Chris Pontius travel to exotic locales and embrace local customs, pulled a 2.5 (1.75 million).

Sunday Stew's final show —One Bad Trip, in which party animals engage in no-holds barred behavior — attracted a 2.2 demo rating (1.55 million).

Heavy Promotion

Graden was pleased but not necessarily surprised by the block's first week performance. "We put a lot of promotional and marketing support behind Punk'd and thought it was a strong enough show to lead an entire new effort," said Graden, noting that MTV has generally launched original shows and blocks in the 10 p.m. hour. "This was a strong enough start to believe it can carry through."

Graden was not dismayed by the drop for One Bad Trip in the 10:30 p.m. slot. "The share numbers among that group held up very well. HUTs [households using television] fall at that point as younger viewers get ready for bed or finish up their homework," he said.

Should they maintain their momentum, Graden envisions another round of Sunday Stew being served up to viewers sometime next spring.

"I've seen all the cuts, but I want to watch and see how the shows flow. If things hold up, I don't see why we wouldn't come back with these series," said Graden, adding that he's not averse to taking a hiatus. "Maybe at some point, we would have enough development to run another cycle of series in that slot. But for now I'm okay with having a franchise that comes back intermittently."

Graden said MTV's next wave of new shows would come in January, following the holidays.

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