For over a decade people have bemoaned MTV for straying away from their mission statement of being “Music Television” for showing increasingly less music, and now they are progressively leaning away from the “television” aspect by resurrecting MTV Cribs via the means of Snapchat – because that’s what the kids like, the Snapchat.
Where before camera crews would enter the homes of celebrities, exposing the real lives of our beloved content-producers, those deemed important enough to be shoved into our pockets will now take us around their homes themselves.
Many are still pondering the technicalities of how this revival will work. When MTV Cribs was first shown in 2000 it was the almost candid appearance of musicians’ homes that was appealing, like a behind-the-scenes. One can only assume that when celebrities guide the tours themselves from their smartphones we will only see a phony facsimile of their reality, just like how everyone’s lives are on social media.
MTV has lost half of its 18-48 viewership over the past five years. New president of the company Sean Atkins says that the key to increased viewership is a return to music-based programming through modern means. At a recent launch event MTV announced 14 new series, four of which involve music. As well as bringing back Cribs they are also relaunching MTV Unplugged, an iconic MTV franchise from the 90’s which broadcast a wide variety of acts including Aerosmith, Sinead O’Connor and A Tribe Called Quest.
While MTV could be applauded for this partial return to their roots, the problem lies in how the rest of their 10 new series are complete paint by numbers, such as a movie-themed talk show featuring The Rock and a comedy reality-show called First World Problems. Such unimaginative programming is unlikely to catch any attention, and their millennial market will continue to dwindle.
As the pioneers of the reality-show MTV have fallen into a grave they have dug themselves. Unable to compete with the titanic Kardashians and their music programming made void by online video-streaming sites like YouTube, it would seem they have nowhere to go.
The only hope for MTV may be to truly return to their roots and pursue a more alternative broadcasting schedule. Their reputation may have been stomped into the dirt for those old enough to recall MTV’s heyday when alternative was mainstream, but if they were able to capture some of that magic a la Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, there may yet be life in the old channel.
There’s nothing wrong with showing Catfish or Teen Mom if they desperately need the money, but MTV cordoning off their late nights to showcase alternative music and shows could be very exciting. If not, it should probably just die.
[Jimmy Donaghy – @JimmyDonagee]