MTV Is Desperate To Be Cool Again
I can still hear the guitar signature of the MTV logo when it flashed on the screen. I see the iconic Moonman planting its MTV flag in the landscape of popular music, claiming the territory as its own.
Because in the 1980’s and 90’s MTV was the place to see and hear all that was hot in popular music. From the hottest videos to landmark shows like Beavis & Butthead and The Real World, if it was on MTV it was cool. Even in the first decade of the new millennium, Music Television was a pop taste-maker with TRL–Total Request Live.
But as the decade drew to a close, the network started to fade. Young people figured out they could go to YouTube and get their favorite videos whenever they wanted. When TRL was cancelled in 2008, MTV abandoned videos almost altogether. Since 2011 the one-time criterion of cool has lost 50% of its coveted 18-49 audience. It’s dropped from the 8th-ranked add-supported network to 20th.
The network that was the arbiter of relevance is in danger of becoming irrelevant. New MTV President, Chris McCarthy is desperate to stop that from happening. Just a week ago McCarthy announced that TRL would be coming back in October. It will be revamped to allow for the gnat-like attention spans of today’s youth. Instead of one host, there will be five.
The announcement of the return of TRL comes on the heels of the first two months of increased ratings for the struggling network in four years. MTV inched up in their core demo group of 18-34 due to reworked reality shows The Real World and Wild ‘n Out.
MTV is also planting its flag in the gender-neutrality movement. It’s working on a new reality show called We Are They which will center around a group of gender-nonconforming young adults and their coming-of-age moments. And just last week the network announced that the annual MTV Video Music Awards would be gender-neutral. It’s even gone so far as to rename the iconic trophy. No longer will the character that graces the award be called the “Moonman”, it will be referred to as the “Moon Person.”
MTV timed the announcement so as to heighten interest in this year’s awards which are coming up on August 27th with Katy Perry as host. There are rumors that Perry will be performing the song that made her a star; however, the song will be renamed in keeping with MTV’s new direction. The tune will now be called I Kissed A Person.