MTV2 Turns Down Music, Tunes Into Guys

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MTV2 is staking its claim on the young
male millennial audience with comedy, sports and
hip-hop themed original fare.

The 80-million
subscriber network,
which in
the past featured
a heavy rotation
of music video
programming, is
now developing
original fare targeted
to a male
12-34 audience
that it believes is
underserved on cable
television, Paul Ricci, senior vice president of programming
and production, said.

“We’ve tried to carve out a real space for ourselves
as a young male lifestyles network,” he said.

Ricci said originals make up about 16% to 18%
of the network’s lineup, which is on par with larger
general-entertainment networks like USA and TNT.
But instead of offering more broad-based programming,
the network is fine-tuning its shows to focus
on such content pillars as smart and funny fare, ordinary
guys doing extraordinary things, sports through
a music filter and hip hop-themed shows.

The network is also looking to break away from
parent network MTV, which itself has undergone a
major rebranding in recent years from music video
programming to female-themed reality fare like 16
and Pregnant
and Teen Mom.

“We try to program the network in a complementary
way to MTV,” Ricci said. “As MTV may go a little
more female, we’ll go more male; as MTV goes a little
more mainstream pop, we’ll tend to go more hip hop.”

MTV2 has already found some ratings success in
its original Guy Code, which stands as the network’s
highest-rated original series. The series, which features
celebrities, comics and athletes discussing the
unwritten rules of manhood, has helped the network
generate double-digit time period increases with its
core male 12-34 audience, according to the network.

The network has also created new episodes of two
off-MTV series that have found an audience on MTV2,
Fantasy Factory and Nitro Circus Live; the latter’s
March 27 series premiere drew the highest network
rating ever for a series premiere among males 12-34.

Next month the network will also bring back ‘70s
game show favorite Hollywood Squares, giving it a
contemporary feel by featuring hip-hop stars in the
tic-tac-toe-based game. Hip Hop Squares, which will
be hosted by Peter Rosenberg, will launch later this
year and will feature such stars as Nick Cannon, Bam
Margera, Fat Joe and Biz Markie.

“We’re very aware of all the noise that you have to
break through on cable, so we tried to find something
that the audience can easily wrap their head around,”
Ricci said. “Our goal is to focus on key shows to win
our audience, so we’re really placing bets and hoping
that those bets come through for us.”

Later this year the network will also launch
MTV2 All Stars, which will honor the best moments
and performances of the year from the sports and
music categories. “Our audience is young guys, and
they’re into sports big-time, as well as into music,
so we feel like we can play in that intersection with
this show,” he said.