MTV Analysis - May 2010



* 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 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 / May 2010 vs. May 2009  (% 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

Numbers down for MTV this month, with the biggest drop in male viewership (-33%) as compared to last year at this time.  Male-skewing Thursdays saw an increase of 60% from 2009 in males, but failed to post gains in overall viewership from last year's Thursdays which featured TAKING THE STAGE and TRUE LIFE.  The new Thursday programs also didn't do as well on second run, which is important for MTV and might have been the cause of the drop overall.

On the female-skewing side, the return of THE HILLS and THE CITY saw huge gains on Tuesday overall, but especially among Females 18-49, which were up by a whoping 243% from this time last year.  Although it's a big number, it should be noted that this is in comparisson to THE PHONE, the unsuccessful reality competition program that aired last year.

The Wednesday night anchor, THE REAL WORLD CHALLENGE is down -20% this year in male viewership and flat across other demos.  These challenges, which have spun off of THE REAL WORLD traditionally do better than the original, attracting more males.

As MTV prepares to go scripted with the series THE HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER this summer, they are shifting the way they shop for non-scripted programs as well.  They are looking for reality that's more "real" as opposed to what has become known as reality television, but is actually semi-scripted.  This is a move away from THE HILLS and closer to more emotional character-driven series like 16 AND PREGNANT. 


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 THE HILLS) don't necessarily have anything 'musical' about them.  Often music is used to convey emotions and new bands can find their big break when one of their songs debuts on an MTV show. 

In 2009, MTV announced a shift in their programming.  They have begun to look for more positive and optimistic programs for the "Millennial" generation.  According to a recent press release, "Millennials have a great sense of optimism and are filled with a 'can-do' spirit that's infused into all areas of their lives."  Some of their new programs feature teens overcoming obstacles and helping make a difference in the world.  MTV also continues to invest in specials, especially live events, which is what brings the network the most buzz.  Also, the network, which previously featured mostly reality programming, has been investing in scripted series and movies.  For MTV, perhaps more than any other network, an interactive component is very important for programs to resonate with the audience.

Pitching to MTV is always tricky because they're never looking for something they already have.  In a recent interview, Tony DiSanto, President of Programming and Development explained "We're always looking for what's not on our air or, really, what's not on other networks. We really want to be 'disruptive': when you're flipping through the channels you're forced to stop on MTV, either through a really loud concept or an execution, approach or attitude. We really like to go left when everybody else goes right."