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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 / December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Overall, the past year was subpar for MTV. The network’s hopes of achieving a script-centric network were rebuffed once again in 2012. The failure of scripted programs such as THE INBETWEENERS and UNDEREMPLOYED dimmed the short-term possibility of success on the scripted front. Meanwhile, the decline of JERSEY SHORE and its nonstarter spinoffs highlighted a need for a new reality juggernaut.

This December MTV managed to make a few key month-to-month gains (particularly among men 25 -54, which experienced a 25% rise). Despite these steps in the right direction, viewership was generally down from last year.

December also marked an end of an era for MTV. After a three year run, MTV bid farewell to the brand-defining JERSEY SHORE. Over the course of its last season, SHORE was a sad shadow of its former self. It sputtered in its final month on air, earning its worst finale ratings ever.

Despite this disappointment, the final episode of SHORE was still the network’s most watched telecast of the month. Though popular among men 18 – 49 (it was the demo’s most viewed telecast), it earned its greatest viewership with women 18 – 49.

While the show was able to drum up a bit of viewer interest for its finale, the preceding episodes that month flopped. In fact, the penultimate episode was only the eighth watched telecast on MTV. While this is a respectable performance for many shows, it’s an embarrassing low for SHORE.

Collectively, the most popular show of the month was TEEN MOM II despite being down in month-to-month ratings. The program suffered its worst single telecast ratings to date thanks to an unfortunate Christmas Eve airdate. Though December was not a banner month for the show, MOM’s performance still made Mondays MTV’s most popular night of the week.

While the underperforming (though comparatively popular) tandem of SHORE and MOM delivered the network’s best ratings, THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEAONS fared well. CHALLENGE closed out its 23rd season in December and maintained its ratings from the previous month.

New show CATFISH entered into its second month and dipped slightly in household ratings. Despite this, the show did enjoy a 20% increase with men 18 – 49 as well as a 33% rise among women 25 – 54. While CATFISH is not a breakout hit, it is managing to achieve sturdy numbers for MTV.

The same cannot be said for UNDEREMPLOYED, which trudged closer to cancellation this month. The failing show is another blemish on the network’s mottled scripted resume. Nearly every consecutive episode has fallen in the ratings and UNDEREMPLOYED reached its worst ratings to date this December. The program does poorly with women 18 – 49 and worse with men 18 – 49.

In the upcoming year expect MTV to further seek out scripted programming as it simultaneously looks for new reality programming to fill the hole left by SHORE.