MTV Analysis - September 2010

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SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

OCTOBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / October 2010 vs. October 2009  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

F18-49

P18-49

Monday 8-11pm

50%

60%

22%

43%

Tuesday 8-11pm

100%

88%

100%

100%

Wednesday 8-11pm

18%

0%

11%

14%

Thursday 8-11pm

189%

93%

486%

250%

Friday 8-11pm

57%

50%

100%

75%

Saturday 8-11pm

60%

60%

50%

67%

Sunday 8-11pm

50%

20%

43%

33%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

75%

50%

100%

89%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Huge month for MTV with positive numbers all around.  All the new programs did well as did the returning seasons of older ones.  HARD TIMES did well among females on Monday as did TEEN MOM on Tuesday.  THE REAL WORLD on Wednesday was also up among all demos as compared to last year.  The biggest story for August is JERSEY SHORE.  The season premiere and subsequent episodes all did really well, posting an increase of +322% from last year for Thursday among its target demo and the show is still gaining viewers.  The last episode in August beat the premiere episode, which had already been deemed the most watched program this year among the demographic.  The number of viewers who tune in every week are comparable to the numbers of those who tune in for the MTV Movie Awards or Video Music Awards and for a reality series that's quite an accomplishment.

It also did well on second, third and fourth runs throughout the schedule on primetime.  Repeats of JERSEY SHORE did well enough to keep Sunday's numbers on par with last year when new content like AMERICA'S BEST DANCE CREW was premiering.  Having such a successful series energized all nights at MTV and made for a very successful month overall.  TEEN MOM and HARD TIMES both saw an increase in share from last month.

Saturday was the only night in the schedule down overall.  This was due to a lack on consistancy in programming.  A new series began airing early Tuesday nights before TEEN MOM also disappointed in the ratings.  IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME follows students from different social groups in high school as they experience Challenge Day, where through the help of youth counselors they go through life-altering activities with their classmates.  It's no longer airing in primetime.

Overall, it was a solid month at MTV that can be mostly attributed to one program.  Whether JERSEY SHORE can continue to do well will depend on how the format will develop.  Will they change casts and locations like the REAL WORLD?  Or can they continue to feature the original cast?  The format has the potential to be the next REAL WORLD if it's developed in the right way.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

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."

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