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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 / October 2012 vs. October 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

October was a step in the wrong direction for MTV. From a monthly standpoint, the network’s ratings were either down or unchanged from September, with the exception of men 18 – 49 (which was up 14%). Meanwhile, yearly viewership was down by roughly a quarter in most key demographics.

This noticeable yearly decline is tied to the waning appeal of JERSEY SHORE. In October of 2011, SHORE was in the midst of a highly rated fourth season rendezvous to Italy.

Though SHORE remains a staple of MTV’s programming slate, viewer enthusiasm is decidedly diminished. When year-to-year premiere episodes of the show are compared, the highest rated October 2012 episode falls drastically short of the worst rated October 2011 episode.

Nevertheless, MTV’s top six telecasts of the month were SHORE episodes. The fact that SHORE fell so severely from a year ago but still earned the best ratings per telecast drives home how immensely popular it was at its peak.

Thursdays, which featured SHORE, were easily MTV’s most popular night of the week. The night found its biggest audience with women 18 – 49. Thursdays were down from last year (which featured a hardier SHORE) but showed significant gains from September.

While the gains made by women 18 – 49 were marginal, women 25 – 54 were up 12%. The increases made my men were more impressive: the 18 – 49 range were up 20% while men 25 – 54 were up a full 33%. Apparently SHORE is much more appealing to men than SNOOKI & JWOWW and AWKWARD (which were featured on Thursdays last month).

As SHORE began its final run, the TEEN MOM franchise bid its last farewell to viewers. All told, October featured one official episode as well as two specials of MOM. Each of these three broadcasts ranked within the network’s top five telecasts of the month. Unsurprisingly, the telecasts were the most popular among women 18 – 49 with the series finale garnering the most viewers in this demo.

Just as SHORE and MOM were co-headlining their goodbye tour, MTV was ushering in a fresh face: UNDEREMPLOYED. While ratings for the series’ opening episodes were nothing flashy, the show posted fair numbers.

Collectively, UNDEREMPLOYED’S ratings were somewhere in the ballpark of (fellow scripted program) AWKWARD’S early episodes. MOM and SHORE’S departure, in conjunction with UNDEREMPLOYED’S arrival, is somewhat symbolic of the network’s continued expansion into scripted territory.

RIDICULOUSNESS, which aired on Mondays, began winding down its third season and remained fairly consistent with the ratings of the month before.

While premiere episodes managed strong enough numbers, a glut of reruns (particularly of JERSEY SHORE) seems to have dragged the ratings down.