Skip to main content

MTV Analysis


MTV's schedule is constantly changing. They usually have at least 3 nights of primetime first-run programs, while the other nights are either re-runs or other specials. They fill gaps in the schedule by showing feature films and a few acquired series relevant to their audience. The timeslots leading up to premieres are usually a marathon of episodes of weeks' past. They rely on a lot of repetition in the form of marathons, especially on the weekends. They also make good use of tent poling by scheduling longstanding reliable series like THE REAL WORLD at 10pm and new, untested content either right before or at 10:30 or 11pm.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2012 vs. April 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

April featured the much-hyped return of PUNK’D after a five-year hiatus as well as the unveiling of JERSEY SHORE spinoff THE PAULY D PROJECT.  Despite the seeming anticipation for both programs, neither were able to prevent MTV from taking a spill in the monthly and yearly ratings.

The two high profile shows shared a Thursday night premiere, with MTV icon PUNK’D serving as the lead-in for newcomer PAULY D.  The PUNK’D premiere was the most watched program of the month, finding an especially strong base among women aged 18-49.  Meanwhile, THE PAULY D PROJECT retained virtually all of PUNK’D’s viewers, nearly tying its lead-in as MTV’s strongest telecast in April.  In fact, PAULY D actually managed to accrue more male and female viewers in the coveted 18-49 range.

Unfortunately, neither show would surpass the high water mark set by their misleading premieres.  PUNK’D suffered a stunning drop the week following the premiere, jettisoning viewers in every demographic.  PAULY D lost even more viewers as it failed to maintain the transient watchers that tuned in out of sheer curiosity.

Despite PUNK’D and PAULY D’s disappointing drops, the shows fared relatively well within the context of MTV’s April programming.  The network allotted much of its programming to re-runs with select new programming handling the brunt of the work.  Past seasons of JERSEY SHORE, FANTASY FACTORY, RIDICULOUSNESS, and SIXTEEN AND PREGNANT were all used as filler to pad out the schedule.

In terms of current programming, AMERICA’S BEST DANCE CREW managed decent numbers  on Wednesday nights for the opening episodes of its seventh season.  The show continues to thrive among women aged 18-49 but has not secured an audience elsewhere.

16 AND PREGNANT – which aired on Tuesdays – took a major ratings hit compared to the previous season’s numbers.  The series was down a full 30% from last year, with women aged 18-49 down 41%.

On the bright side, the new season of ROB DYRDEK’S FANTASY FACTORY – airing on Monday nights – remained steady with seasons past.  Collectively, MTV aired an impressive 35 telecasts of the show – a number that narrowly beat out the airings for PUNK’D.

The Live plus Same Day ratings displayed negligible improvement over the live numbers with the sole exception of CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE EXES.  The show’s reunion special shot up 37% with the addition of same day viewings.  SOUTH PARK (the most popular cable show the night the reunion special aired) is a possible culprit for postponed viewing.  Both shows shared a 10PM timeslot.

Brand new show SAVAGE U got off to a rough start.  The unscripted program features sex columnist Dan Savage as he tours America’s universities discussing sex.  The show was unable to crack April’s top 20 telecasts (a list largely populated by PAULY D, PUNK’D, and FANTASY FACTORY) and failed to find purchase with any demographic.