Monday, 20 March 2017

Let's Talk About Viacom's "Flagship Six" : MTV probably wouldn't be as good as their older material. Beavis and Butt-head, Daria, The Maxx, Liquid Television, Celebrity Deathmatch, Undergrads, and Clone High just to name a few.

Sorry, I was doing a brick joke.

It's almost a damn shame that MTV's biggest success stories have been in the realm of reality television and anything else that has jack to do with music. The key word being "almost", because MTV wouldn't become as popular as it is if it didn't ditch music programming long before the medium became obsolete in the face of MP3 players and the internet. Besides, reality television will serve as the waypoint for the network's reinvention as THE flagship brand for Viacom.

In recent years, MTV has diversified it's programming with scripted series and more experimental fare. Sadly, it hasn't really help them out in the ratings game, nor the endless game of remaining relevant to its ever-changing audience. As a result, outside of The Shannara Chronicles and the new season of Scream, MTV is pulling back on scripted programming. All that's left to do is hope that Sweet/Vicious gets a renewal, or at least picked up by another network.

Youth culture is MTV's essence, but clearly it is also their curse. Like YTV, MTV doesn't grow with its audience, and as a result, we've outgrown them for other networks. Instead, MTV stays behind to entertain the next generation of youths. What you see as a tarnished age, they will see as a golden age years later.

How does it feel to be an old fart, grandpa?

Going forward MTV will somewhat return to its iconic roots: music-related shows and reality television. When it comes to reality, MTV was unmatched. Jersey Shore is an immortal example of how even one of the worst shows on television can still keep a captive audience watching week-after-week. MTV hasn't had a hit since, at least one I can't stop hearing about somewhere else. One of the few shows on MTV that gets genuine buzz is the scripted Teen Wolf, and it's currently airing its final season.

Wonderland was MTV's last gasp at bringing more prominence to music television. All that needs to be said is, soon after Wonderland finished airing, MTV followed the example of VH1 and ditched their video blocks. Both networks still air music videos, but only as intermission programming, though MTV will also premiere new videos in primetime. I'd make comparisons to Fuse, but that's like comparing snacks you don't like; the lesser of two evils is still evil.

When I said the Paramount Network wasn't going to anything with the unscripted format that I haven't seen already, Spike came out of nowhere with "Adam Carolla and Friends Build Stuff Live", which is exactly what it says on the title. So if MTV still gives a crap about music as much as Spike/Paramount is serious about making unscripted programming that as good as any of Paramount's movies, I won't let my guard down and say "music television is dead" just yet.

Challenging worldviews and driving conversation was in MTV's DNA. They are not a music network anymore, they should stop pretending to be one, and they shouldn't go back to being one. What MTV really needs to do focus on the real issues and trends in the world, what's happening right now and what could happen tomorrow. It's no wonder Pivot bit the dust; MTV was already doing their job - minus the reruns.

If music is the muse for what MTV does, than the network shouldn't marginalize music programming and pander to the hipsters and manchildren who are too blinded by nostalgia, 80s rock, and indie music to see the big picture. MTV sucks at music television because there're already so many other outlets and thingamabobs that does what MTV used to do but better, and yet these people still expect MTV to be better than the rest of them when, clearly, the network can do better with its resources.

Besides, if the ratings are anything to go by, these people care even less about music television. There's a reason why fans of a better cartoon show are called the "Toonami Faithful", because they're willing to stay up until 3:30AM to keep good animation on the air. Being on a network that has taken MTV's place among millennials, Adult Swim, also helps. It also means MTV has A LOT of work cut out for them.

As part of the "flagship six" plan, the rest of Viacom's network's will have their resources drained to fuel programming for networks like MTV. MTV currently has four branded spinoffs in MTV2, MTV Live, MTVU, MTV Classic. The latter three are the most music-driven, MTV Classic abandoning its original format to become another all-video network.

MTV2 will be used as a sort of lab for future MTV programming, as demonstrated by Joking Off and Kingin with Tyga jumping ship to MTV. However, MTV2 targets young men, whereas MTV's current programming leans heavily towards women.

In other words, MTV is hoping young men like myself will watch a network that's nothing but syndicated shows, MTV repeats, and five hours of hip-hop/alternative rock videos to see only a handful of cheaply-produced original shows in the hopes that they get good enough ratings to move over to a network that airs shows about dating and teen pregnancy, shallow reality shows, and reruns of Friends (and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

Maybe if this was Canada, and every other cable network sucked ass!

Undeniably, MTV2 is on the chopping block. Disney XD is another a boy-slanted network, but one that has been given the resources to become even better than its flagship sibling. MTV2 is no Disney XD, and if its only reason to exist is to churn out new shows for MTV, they might as well pull the plug now and save us the trouble. Better yet, since Spike is branded as a general entertainment channel, and Esquire Network is getting the boot, MTV2 should be properly rebranded as a male entertainment channel, separate from MTV.  It's not like anyone is going to miss waking up at 8AM to see the last hour of music videos anyways!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've shared my opinions on Viacom's Flagship Six, where they are now, where I'd like them to go. But MTV is centerpiece of it all, the crown jewel in Viacom's media empire. If it isn't up to par with the other five networks, there could be trouble. So they better get started.

The next generation wants their MTV.

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