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MTV Movie and TV Awards Help MTV Reset Focus on Teen Viewers

Millie Bobby Brown’s tears were golden for MTV on the revamped MTV Movie and TV Awards telecast.

Sunday’s awards telecast was overhauled this year to take square aim at the teenage viewers that MTV hopes will lead the channel’s rebirth as a force in youth culture. The “Stranger Things” star broke down on stage while accepting her win for best actor in the gender-neutral TV thespian category. That moment was big among the 41 million clips streamed across MTV’s social media platforms in connection with the awards — volume that was up 40% over 2016.

Total viewership of the show dropped to 1.2 million viewers, from 1.4 million in 2016. But live viewership among elusive teen viewers inched up ever so slightly, or 2% to a 0.7 rating. In an environment where teenagers are abandoning linear TV for digital platforms, that’s a modest gain MTV was happy to see even if it meant losses on the older end of young adult demographics.

Clips streamed via social media won’t pay the bills like TV spots in a live telecast. But this year’s kudocast was designed to be a loss leader of sorts, to bring the high-school set back to the channel that their parents grew up watching.

The inclusion of TV shows for the first time and the emphasis on gender-neutral categories and diversity among the honorees was tailored to appeal to the Generation-Z ethos. The goal was to generate engagement with teenagers where they live, which makes a 92% spike in Facebook clip streams and 15% gain in Twitter activity a small but important victory for a channel that is just starting its turnaround effort.

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