MTV makes time for nine

Network to reconfigure its entire evening lineup

In a bid to stay competitive in primetime, MTV is rejigging its entire evening lineup and making 9 p.m. a new destination for original programming.

In addition to the sked overhaul — which will also theme Monday as coming-of-age night and Tuesday as testosterone time — MTV has greenlit to series the sports parody “Wrestling Society X” and “Bam’s Unholy Union,” about the pending nuptials of “Jackass” alum Bam Margera.

Move into the 9 p.m. timeslot, which kicks off in January, extends MTV’s bold summer experiment in which the cabler ran new seasons of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ “Making the Band” and “Run’s House” at 9 and 9:30 (Daily Variety, May 24). For the past several years, net has premiered all of its original episodes at 10 during Monday-Friday branded destination the Ten Spot.

The current 10 p.m. lineup, however, has faced some tough times recently with increased competition for young eyeballs from across broadcast, cable and the Web. Block is down 9% in MTV’s key 12-34 and 12-24 demos this year versus last. In primetime overall — 8-11 p.m. — net is down 9% and 7% in the demos, respectively. MTV Networks Music Group Entertainment president Brian Graden said that as a result of a strong development season, the net now has over a dozen franchises that will enable MTV to become a real player in all of primetime.

“The 10 p.m. hour seemed like a magical timeslot five or 10 years ago. Now, there is competition everywhere,” Graden said. “Because we have such a strong collection of potential franchises, I feel like we have flexibility and can be truly competitive in primetime and not just at 10.”

As for the decision to do theme nights on Monday and Tuesday, Graden said the sked is a reflection of how audiences are behaving across platforms.

“Rather than trying to schedule one hit after another, we can link our shows in ways that make thematic and emotional sense,” Graden explained. “Mondays are about coming-of-age issues and big moments in life, whereas Tuesday is more adventure and adrenaline.”

To help build auds over several timeslots, MTV will house four original series in the 9 p.m. hour beginning next month as part of new programming moves:

  • Mondays at 9 will be home to another cycle of “My Super Sweet 16” and new docuseries “Engaged & Underage.” Those series will be followed at 10 by the return of “Laguna Beach” spinoff “The Hills” and Jennifer Lopez-produced “DanceLife,” about amateur dancers struggling to make it in showbiz. Shows premiere Jan. 15, except for “Engaged,” which bows on Jan. 22.

  • Tuesdays at 9 will see the return of the newly interactive “Road Rules,” in which viewers will now vote off the participants, and “Bam’s Unholy Union.” Second season of football skein “Two-A-Days” and the preem of “Wresling Society X” will follow at 10 and 10:30. Skeins bow Jan. 30.

  • Elsewhere, “The Real World” and “Twentyfourseven” will continue to hold down Wednesdays at 10 and 10:30. Reality comedy “Adventures in Hollyhood,” chronicling the adventures of the Three 6 Mafia, will pick up at 10:30 beginning Jan. 31 after the first season of “Twentyfourseven” wraps.

  • MTV will try out “Juvies,” a docuseries about young people in juvenile detention centers, Thursdays at 10 starting Feb. 8. n And on Sundays, net will premiere its journo internship competish “I’m From Rolling Stone” beginning Jan. 7.

  • Friday and Saturday nights will house reruns of MTV’s primetime and afternoon shows.

“Unholy Union” will revolve around Bam, his fiance Missy and his friends and family in the months leading up to his wedding. Skein is the third in which Margera has starred for the net, following “Viva La Bam” and “Jackass.” Margera and Sonar Entertainment’s Terry Hardy, Michael Bloom and Joe Devito are exec producers.

“Wrestling Society X” is a sort of amateur wrestling competition complete with death-defying stunts. Each episode will also feature a musical guest. Skein is produced by Big Vision Entertainment in conjunction with MTV.  Houston Curtis and Sam Korkis are exec producers.