Viacom Chief Says ‘Reimagining’ of MTV Is in Works

Teen Mom
Courtesy of MTV

After MTV launched in 1981, a hot ad campaign prompted thousands of young viewers to shout its slogan: I want my MTV!” In recent times, it seems, that phrase has not been on as many lips.

With MTV suffering the defection of viewers who consume video entertainment in new ways, such as on tablets, that aren’t always counted in Nielsen tallies, the network’s owner, Viacom, is preparing to unveil a broad overhaul in coming weeks, said Philippe Dauman, the company’s executive chairman  and chief executive, in an interview.

Executives will debut “a more significant re-imagining of the brand,” said Dauman, when hosting an “upfront” presentation for advertisers in April. “I’m confident we are going to get there,” he said of plotting a revival of the network famous for everything from hosts known as VJs to the reality program “Jersey Shore.”  Ad revenue at the network has been choppy in recent years, falling in both 2013 and 2014, according to data from market-research firm SNL Kagan.


Philippe Dauman

Viacom, Under Scrutiny, Puts New Hope In TV Upfront

MTV’s primetime ratings among viewers between 18 and 49 fell about 8% for the week ending March 20, according to research from Todd Juenger, a media-industry analyst for Bernstein. Quarter to date, however, the network’s viewership in that category is up an equivalent amount, thanks to new episodes of shows like “Teen Mom” and “The Shannara Chronicles.” With advertisers expected to earmark more money for TV’s annual upfront market this year, boosting MTV seems like a critical move.

Some steps have already been taken. Sean Atkins, an executive vice president of digital media and strategy at Discovery Communications, was named MTV’s president last year. In February, Viacom renamed Palladia, a digital-cable network devoted to live music and rechristened it “MTV Live” and said it would be devoted more closely to live music.  And MTV has made little secret of its desire to revive MTV News, hiring staffers who can chronicle national politics and popular culture and place those reports online, on the network or on new vehicles like podcasts. Executives in coming weeks are expected to detail new plans to strengthen MTV’s connection to music and pop culture.

“This next broadcast year is going to be a landmark for that brand,” Dauman said.

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  1. Laurie Carney says:

    Whoever is in charge of the greatest videos on earth, owns them is not very smart by not making dvds of the music videos and selling them, so many of us from the 80’s want OUR MTV BACK. PLUS EVEN IF ONLY ONLINE BROADCAST ONE OR TWO DAYS A WEEK RE-RUNS OR THE MTV EPISODES. YOU’D MAKE A KILLING I am 49 and totally lost without the original music videos. MTV really did change the way we look (watch and listen to music) and it will never be the same again for us so why take away part of our youth by removing or not broadcasting all the videos since day one till it went south with your reality t.v etc. WHAT A WASTE OF TALENT AND OF THE NAME MTV AND WHAT IT STANDS FOR :'( I would most definitely pay for dvds of the original videos played on MTV way back when I was 16

  2. Chance Rush says:

    And give us back 120 Minutes and Headbangers Ball!!!!

  3. Jim Gross says:

    You know what I’d love to see? Total re-broadcast of MTV’s first decade, complete and unedited.

  4. Petri says:

    It would be great to have the main channels back in bisnes. Just like it use to be. An also the MTV should be FTA satellite channel again.

  5. Nate says:

    I want to see MTV back to videos. The glory day of music. Mtv became a joke when the format changed to dumb shows. It is and has been no longer a music channel. Calling the network music television is a outright lie.

  6. elima77 says:

    If there is one show that I want to see back on MTV,it’s Remote Control.

  7. d.w.m. says:

    You wanna save MTV? Simple. Make the M stand for “Music” again instead of the MT standing for “em-tee”. Give me a reason to watch. Hint: Reality shows ain’t it! Show me bands and music videos that are exciting – not just commercial sausage factory ilk that sound like glorified metronomes with autotuned vocals fronting them. Mix new with classics. That will get me to watch. I haven’t watched for over a decade. Extra credit: Revive 120 Minutes and you’ll have a faithful viewer!

  8. Jesse Skeen says:

    When MTV started out, it was one of the main reasons I wanted cable. What it’s become now is one of the main reasons why I DON’T have cable. Even playing lousy music would at least stick to the channel’s original purpose, most of what they show now has NOTHING to do with music! In the 80s they turned people on to new bands that weren’t even played much on the radio, they could easily do the same thing today if they had anyone with a brain running the channel. YouTube??? Please- that can hardly deliver high-quality video at all, and many of the music videos on there are bootleg-quality. Show pristine master-quality videos with no compression (and no on-screen bugs!) and encourage new artists to mix in 5.1 surround, and you’ll have a channel that nobody will want to turn off. They should move Jersey Shore and the like to YouTube instead, as it’s not like THAT requires any sort of high-quality presentation!

    If MTV won’t go back to music, they should just change their name completely like other channels have. What they are now is an absolute insult to what cable USED TO BE.

  9. Josh says:

    I used to LOVE the old MTV of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I used to love watching the Half Hour Comedy Hour, MTV News was cool, and they used to do this weird thing… show MUSIC VIDEOS! Also used to love Pop Up Video. Was cool to see a new or classic video with stuff added you never new.

  10. Dear MTV, you are a big reason for the collapse of the music industry eco-system. To say you are going to “overhaul” your stations programming is wishful thinking, but until you understand your basic fundamentals of what you are, you will continue to fail. When you “Music” in your name and yet refuse to play music within your programing, then that’s the issue. What is even funnier, it was once said that when you programmed “other” useless shows, that the ratings were better than when you played music… did it ever occur to you that maybe you were playing the WRONG music, and that is why your ratings went down? In my 31 years writing and performing music to many people, most people align music within their lives so it becomes a soundtrack to their lives. I have not met a single person that doesn’t like music in one way or another. Just like radio, for some reason it was decided to alienate rock music, the strongest genre of music in history. Still to this day AC/DC, Aerosmith, Stones, Eagles, Bon Jovi, etc fill stadiums across the US with no new hit song, yet you insist rock is dead? Target/Walmart sell those bands T-Shirts all day and night long. Kids played with those bands on Rock band and STILL you insist rock is dead. Fact, play some NEW rock pop bands (ya know the strong brand genre ever) and maybe your ratings will improve. Same goes for radio… do you know how willing bands would be to come on air, talk a little about their careers and songs and show some substance within your programing? The powers that are at MTV (and most radio stations) need a NEW fresh way of thinking. Some personality of programming, where the passion of the DJ or VJ come thru and the listener/viewer can explore new music together. At one point, there was a DJ that decided to play Led Zep, Beatles, Foreigner, Journey, Rush, Eagles, etc.. in one hour. All new music at one time. Today, just like corporate america, everyone just does the minimal to get by so they collect a paycheck and not get fired. We will go nowhere with that type off philosophy in life/business. So in closing, if you want to bring your brand back to some semblance of your early success, then LISTEN to what your potential customers have been asking for for about 20 years now… MUSIC… and MUSIC only…

  11. Quigley Spargus says:

    Something tells me Brooklyn Phil has his fingers crossed behind his back.

  12. creek0512 says:

    MTV’s target demographic has always been teenagers. In the 80’s and 90’s they attracted that audience with popular music videos. But that doesn’t work anymore when you can watch any music video you want whenever you want on YouTube.

    The reason you hate all of MTV’s current shows is because you are older. MTV is still catering to the same demographic, you have just aged out of it.

    And the whole “MTV should be like VH1 Classics” makes no sense, just watch VH1 Classics if that’s what you like. Viacom owns both MTV and VH1, why would the make them exactly the same?

  13. oretha says:

    The budgets for music videos has changed as well. Originally the music video was a chance to market artists. Now, they have facebook live.

  14. Barry Easley says:

    I would watch MTV again if it played rock and dance music, but will never watch again if they keep playing rap crap and reality TV crap! “I WANT MY MTV! :)

  15. John says:

    Like anything they are evolving. While people below are complaining about the shows that are/were aired, obviously there was a market for them at one time. Getting back to their musical/pop culture roots sounds great to me. I Miss My MTV!

  16. dubi says:

    Mtv is joke vh classic is what was mtv before…

  17. Susan Riley says:

    I wish they would just show music videos. I hate the “Teen Mom” and “Jersey Shore” types of shows – what do they have to do with music? Classic concerts would be great too.

  18. well they have . on my tv MTV and MTV 2…how about making one of them stations MTV Classics as VH1 Has VH1Classics. ?

  19. Marcus says:

    Wow, only 1 mention of playing more MUSIC! Stupid TV execs, Music videos is what people want on Mtv, not Teen Ho-Bag Mom and Jersey Shore:STD disbursement experts

  20. Julie Fuson says:

    MTV needs to be what it was when it started out with more music videos & less real life shows.

  21. Bobby Mason says:

    MTV will never be like it was in my day. Cool music videos, Spring break concerts, silly cartoons. No momma baby dramas, no fake reality TV shows. And the key was Music videos, Music videos, Music videos! And cool cool shows! MTV is unwatchable any more. I’d rather watch the 80’s, 90’s, music blocks on VH1. And Darels house. I believe most of the men and women around my age (44) don’t want Rap, hip hop or Soul programs 24/7. We didn’t grow up that away. It’s all good for those 30 and under but the 80’s and 90’s were a different time. Until MTV brings in the coolness factor then there will be no reason for us to even watch their lame programming.

  22. Chillie Wullie says:

    I like Fuse network. Lots of music videos & decent reality shows (Big Freedia). But if I want a mix of interesting diverse live music, I watch Jools Holland on BBC. Good stuff!

  23. Lauren says:

    I just want the music back. I quit watching when all the crappy “reality” shows took over. If you’re going to call it MTV (Music TV), the deliver the music please.

  24. gummibiscuit says:

    I can be nostalgic about watching MTV in the ’80s and early ’90s, but like listening to the radio, it can never be like that again and there are better alternatives. The only thing missing from customized playlists or random song selections on YouTube is that ability to just discover something that airs while waiting for other videos and get use to it and like it, but I can still seek out other music now if I want. I don’t even know why people complain about MTV not showing videos anymore when they can do all that.

  25. KB says:

    I stopped years ago when they started doing shows, and only seemed to focus on one type of music. Not everyone listens to rap and hip hop. Make it a wider variety of music, get rid of the stupid shows, and maybe it’ll be decent again.

  26. RussB says:

    Maybe the M in MTV will go back to mean Music rather than Maternity

    • Eric Kline says:

      Vevo is dominating the online music video space and teens and tweens barely watch TV so while MTV should create more music programming and certainly AIR music videos, I doubt they will completely go back to an updated 80’s music programming model.

  27. Mike P says:

    Shazam is also a great place for videos. Plug your phone into your surround and TV and you can play videos for almost every song you have shazamed. Pretty sweet really.

  28. Personally, I stopped watching MTV once “Daria” left the air (yes, I was an avid watcher, it was a great show). Many people say that YouTube killed MTV, when in actuality, MTV committed suicide by shifting away from videos and towards reality programs (“The Real World,” anyone?). Going back to music videos won’t help them, because as others have said, people can watch them on YouTube or iTunes any time. I dunno, maybe MTV’s time has passed; I certainly can’t think of anything they’d offer that you can’t find on the 500+ other channels on the pay TV spectrum.

    • ninvoid99 says:

      Agreed. I stopped watching MTV2 around 2005 or something. Once YouTube arrived. Why waste your time with a channel that insulted your intelligence? Especially with music that is basically garbage and leans towards the lowest common denominator.

  29. Paully says:

    Maybe they can get Led Zeppelin or Duran Duran or Pink Floyd to make some new exclusive content.. Not a joke or sarcasm

    • KB says:

      Duran Duran has new content. It’s just MTV doesn’t show it because it’s not rap or hip hop. They stopped relying on MTV for their videos to be aired, because of the change in what type of music MTV played.

  30. Bobby says:

    Please kill MTV Decoded, that’s all I ask. I won’t consider watching anything on MTV until it’s gone. That was the final straw for me. Dumb, preachy and mostly wrong. Enjoying my hiatus from MTV :)

  31. Danny says:

    Correction needed: article has MTV’S old logo, which was changed in 2010…

  32. Jake says:

    They stopped showing music videos, I stopped watching.

    The shows they have are beyond stupid.

  33. Dorian Smith says:

    you better rebrand mtv as a network focusing on music videos. these crappy reality shows like teen mom, 16 and Pregnant, jersey shore and slednecks are the reason why your ratings has been terrible. Oh, and bring back beavis and butthead.

  34. You wanna rebrand it make it basically FX in terms of programming. Stop placating to dumb teenagers and adults make scripted programs that are TV-MA. Another thing that honestly would be cool is to release series to binge for 48 hours.

  35. EricJ says:

    Ever since the Bravo exec came Out and tried to craft that channel to more LGBT-oriented programming, viewers have been looking a bit….askance at the programming changes in Viacom’s original programming on MTV, Comedy Channel and Nick TVLand.
    MTV moved from classic music-video programming to more and more teens with their shirts off and crabby high-school girls, while TVLand pushed its Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns aside for aging pop-culture TV stars and cougars.

    It’s one thing to clean house at MTV, but aside from the rot possibly starting at the head, the industry’s changed: Where do music fans even SEE music videos anymore? On the Internet? iTunes?
    MTV has very nearly succeeded in destroying the very industry they created, and now they want to bring it back–But the barn door was left open too long, and David Bowie isn’t around anymore to say “I Want My MTV”.

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