Viacom luvs UGC. MTV will get a mighty future dose.

In an attempt to reconnect with young audiences that have drifted from the channel recently, MTV will begin to roll out series that showcase the best of the Web, require heavy viewer participation and feature the lives of real teens. While YouTube and MySpace made noise first by trafficking in do-it-yourself media, MTV will now put viewers in the driver’s seat by serving teens the entertainment they crave most: the kind they create. Internet pages about themselves. Video shorts they direct. Sliced and diced bits of movies and TV shows, re-cut into something new.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, Brian Graden, MTV Networks’ music group entertainment president, unveiled a different direction for the channel in which MTV acts as the hub for multitasking teenagers.
MTV isn’t the only outlet having trouble keeping the young demographic satisfied these days. Over the last year and a half, once-powerful teen magazines, including Teen People, YM, Teen and Elle Girl, have folded.

The key for MTV will be developing shows that will drive viewers to spend time on series-related online games, in Web communities or on cellphones coughing up jokes of the day.
“We can either stay in the mass business,,” Graden said, “or we can be in the hyper-specialty business where the shows may not have broad appeal but in the Digital Age would better engage our viewers.”
He said that the current series “Scarred” and “Human Giant” are examples of the new strategy. “User-generated content has to become reflected in our programming,” Graden said. “Something like ‘Scarred,’ which tells the stories behind the Web’s most gruesome clips of crashes, wipeouts and accidents, “is based on footage that may already be infamous, but it’s our own narrative accompanying it.”

Going forward, all shows will have a heavy digital component working in conjunction with the show. Casting for “The Real World,” for example, will take place entirely online; “My Super Sweet 16,” which chronicles extravagant birthday bashes, will soon feature home videos from MTV viewers that will account for “a significant portion of our on-air episodes,” Graden said.

One downside to the quirkier offerings is concern that the TV ratings will slump further. But Graden is prepared for a possible leveling off of ratings on-air but argues MTV will still come out ahead online. He cited the upside of “The Andy Milonakis Show,” a series plucked from a series of Web shorts. The show drew modest crowds on air at MTV but was renewed for a second and third season on sister network MTV2.

“The TV ratings were negligible but disproportionately wildly successful online. To me, that was sort of a harbinger of things to come,” Graden said.

But becoming a televised version of YouTube isn’t the endgame. Instead, MTV will try to be a selective curator.

The channel is so committed to the new strategy that even the future of the once-groundbreaking franchise “Laguna Beach” is in question. Gary Auerbach, executive producer of the teen docu-soap, said it was difficult to tell whether the show, MTV’s biggest launch since “Newlyweds,” would return. Whatever happens, the series will live online as the game Virtual Laguna Beach on vMTV.com, the network’s home for virtual gaming.

MTV gets with a new program – Los Angeles Times

Okay… so this UGC thing, HAD to have seen this coming. I am not sold yet. I don’t know about this audience & this entertainment format. Fad or Trend? Especially with teens picking who will live in the MTV house for “Read World,” etc. How has it worked for “Road Rules”? Seriously… has it had big numbers? I’m not sure. For those of you who don’t know– “Road Rules” now gives the audience the power to vote people in/out, etc. They have a rotating group of newbies sitting in a caravan who may or may not get a chance to be voted into the coveted “Road Rules RV”. I’ll have to do some digging and see if I can find any information about the success of this show’s format. It can’t be “that great” as they’ve already launched “The Gauntlet 2” in Africa. I like that show FAR MORE than “Road Rules: Viewers Choice”

I find it interesting that MTv is willing to pull “Laguna Beach” the show, but keep up the insanity of the virutal Laguna. But I won’t get into that… I won’t rehash my opinions on that 😦

I’m REALLY interested to see how this MTV + UGC thing goes. Will it succeed? Will it be a slow climb? Is it worth it? Will the generation suddenly split and aim for well-produced DEEP stories as opposed to this home-at-home-skit technique. Or if UGC will be more of a “User Inspired” technique (thus making those in the industry a bit calmer).

Thoughts?

Here’s some more of the article based on MTV, youth, and the future of their programming:

While MTV has taken lumps with its recent batch of shows, channels like the CW, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and ABC Family are slowly gaining ground with young people.

In spite of all the talk that Internet usage has cut down on TV viewing, the number of young people watching cable channels has actually shot up by double-digits in the last several years. According to Nielsen, since the 2001-02 broadcast season, cable viewing has increased 28% among 12- to 17-year-olds and 26% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

So while MTV will be scaling back on the search for mainstream hits, “We’re not going to sneeze in the face of a hit, either,” Graden said. “We’re not dismissing the importance of TV. It’s still the most powerful megaphone.”

One of the broader pushes will be “Kaya,” a scripted musical series about the challenges of a young Avril Lavigne-esque singer.

“It’s good that they’re mixing it up with some teen drama,” said Susanne Daniels, the former head of programming for the WB, who helped usher in teen shows “Dawson’s Creek” and “Gilmore Girls.” “There wasn’t as much online competition back then, so it’s a lot more challenging for MTV to get the attention of that demo between all the new channels and websites.”

Episodes of “Kaya” will jump back and forth in time, with Kaya reliving her journey to pop stardom as her present-day obstacles arise.

The show’s executive producer, Tony Krantz, said the mature-style storytelling gives it a level of authenticity that teenagers should appreciate. “Her essential conflict is between art and commerce,” Krantz said.

MTV may be at the same crossroads, but Graden says the channel will come out with the right balance. “We’ll end up with a bigger audience that is engaged longer.

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  1. May 14, 2007 at 4:29 pm

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