David Janollari: MTV’s must-watch maven

Youth Impact Report 2011: Channeling Talent

Impact: Revived the MTV programming slate with such hit series as “Awkward,” “Teen Mom” and “Teen Wolf.”
Next: Comedy “I Just Want My Pants Back,” which is set to launch in January.
Causes: Several charities, including GLBT orgs the Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project.

A few years after producing “Six Feet Under” for HBO, David Janollari is taking a similarly edgy approach to younger auds through his new job as head of programming for MTV. Since his arrival at the cabler in 2010 from the WB, where he served as president, MTV has regained a swagger that had previously gone missing.

Many of the shows that defined the network — “The Hills” and “My Super Sweet 16,” among others — were centered on rich kids. However, with the economy suffering and unemployment unacceptably high, Janollari and his team quickly adapted and created shows more relevant to MTV’s 12- to 34-year-old base. Cabler’s scripted skein “Awkward,” about a girl trying to make her way through the perils of a gossip-filled high school, became the net’s highest-rated new series to launch in the last two years, drawing 2.2 million viewers for its season finale.

Among MTV’s other new shows, “Teen Wolf” is coming back for a second season, while reality series “Teen Mom” not only draws strong numbers but also works as a teaching tool concerning the perils and complications of youth pregnancy.

“We’re very big on reaching out to our audience and understanding what’s important to them,” says Janollari, who realizes that in catering to such a young crowd, MTV is competing with not only other networks but social media as well.

“There are so many options for our audience at any given time of the day,” Janollari explains. “We’re all competing for an infinite set of eyeballs.”