MTV Rides Programming Resurgence to First Summer Ratings Increase in Six Years

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fueled by a programming renaissance, MTV scored its first summer ratings increase in six years for the three months ending August 31.

That’s cause for celebration:


The surge follows the steady re-introduction of several legacy MTV programs that have been recalibrated to appeal to the social-, mobile- and digital-oriented youth of today: My Super Sweet 16, Unplugged and, on Snapchat, Cribs and Beach House. And, coming soon: the hugely anticipated returns of early aughts mainstay TRL.

(Take a look at the Shawn Mendes performance that relit Unplugged – you’re not seeing things – there are no cell phones in the audience; the producers prohibited fans from bringing them into the theater, so they could simply enjoy the concert, 1990s style):

The ratings resurgence has not been entirely tethered to nostalgia, however, as a rejiggering of the network’s The Challenge and the launch of unscripted original Siesta Key (below) also fueled large audiences.

Even as the net celebrates this ratings achievement, they have much more in the pipeline. MTV President Chris McCarthy has promised a drumbeat of new content, with “big events” each quarter, in addition to a steady supply of new unscripted programming and occasional scripted series, all of it tailored to the network’s target demo: young people.

“The strategy for the whole brand has been re-elevated, re-pivoted back to youth culture,” McCarthy told The Hollywood Reporter in July. A couple of months later, with the summer’s ratings in, it’s clear that this re-pivot is steering MTV in exactly the right direction.

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