MTV’s Janollari Believes in Snooki

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Newly-named MTV programming
chief David
Janollari said he’ll keep
today’s millennial viewers
engaged with the 30-
year old network through
original scripted shows
and reality programs,
like ratings powerhouse
Jersey Shore.

“We want to offer to our
audience as many different
genres as possible,” Janollari told Multichannel
last week, after he was named executive vice
president and head of programming for the network
— effectively replacing recently departed MTV president
Tony DiSanto.

“At the end of the day, the most important ingredient
is what’s a great show — it could be scripted, it
could be reality, it could be animation — it’s not driven
so much by the genre as the voice.”

The network certainly has found that voice this year
after wandering in the ratings wilderness for several
years. MTV averaged 1.2 million viewers in prime time
during third-quarter 2010, a 43% ratings increase over
the same period in 2009, according to Nielsen.

This past summer, MTV’s reality hits Jersey Shore and
Teen Mom ranked as the top two most-watched series
among the network’s core 12-34 audience demo and represented
eight of the top 10 most-watched cable shows in
the demo for the year, according to the network.

Janollari said MTV will continue to pursue its mix
of original reality and scripted shows that resonate
with the network’s core millennial viewers.

That includes the January return of Jersey Shore, as
well as new episodes of Teen Mom and reality series
16 and Pregnant. It also means the return of freshman
scripted dramedy The Hard Times of R.J. Berger as well
as the launch of scripted drama series Skins — a U.S. series
adaptation of the popular U.K. hit — in January and
TeenWolf later this year.

MTV veteran programming executive Chris Linn,
who last week was promoted to executive vice president
of programming and head of MTV Production,
said the network hopes to build on its ratings momentum
heading into 2011. Linn, a 20-year MTV Networks
exec who was responsible for managing MTV’s
hit reality series Jersey Shore, will oversees the production
of all MTV series including logistics, budget
and all related negotiations.

“The momentum we’ve had has given us the opportunity
to grab people’s attention and to bring different
kinds of entertainment that they might not have
expected from MTV,” Linn said. “The success of Jersey
led people to check out 16 and Pregnant, Teen
and The Hard Times of R.J. Berger.”

MTV’s programming ambitions extend into other dayparts
as well. Janollari says the network will look to beef
up the network’s daytime slots with original fare, pointing
to the network’s new late-afternoon series The Seven,
a live daily show that focuses on pop culture.

Janollari hasn’t ruled out a potential late-night show
for the network, although the network isn’t working on
any specific show to compete with other late-night cable
entries such as TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s The Daily
Show With Jon Stewart
or Adult Swim’s comedy programming
block. “Late night is certainly a space our audience
lives in, and we should be playing in,” Janollari said.