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MTV Shifting Toward More Reality Programming

Under new Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, MTV is planning to air more reality and unscripted programming.

Repairing MTV is a big priority at Viacom, and Bakish said during the company’s earnings call that new MTV president Chris McCarthy is “bringing back a better balanced MTV, including a push on reality.”

For several years, MTV in the U.S. pursued many scripted shows, but MTV International, which was overseen by Bakish did not. “It didn’t really work,” Bakish said of MTV’s scripted shows.

Bakish said that reality shows are often a better fit for the young MTV audience, offer more compelling economics for the company and are the “right fit from a brand filter perspective.”

MTV will also be doing music programming and more live programming and is already doing some live packaging on weekends.

MTV started airing re-runs of Friends earlier this year, which has helped boost ratings.

Bakish said he was skeptical at first about airing Friends but was convinced by research showing the engagement with MTV’s target audience. But he said long-term, acquired programming was not the answer.

“It’s a bridge strategy,” he said. “We needed to reset MTV” and airing a popular show like Friends will give the network time to “implement a new set of shows.”

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.