Did MTV Shake Off the Dead Weight of the Music Video?

MTV is considered the number one global media brand. It influences more than 387 million worldwide viewers. These same viewers spend $250 billion dollars annually. Their ages, surprisingly range from 12 to 34 years old. Despite the preponderance of youth, they have a 48% influence on all the family’s purchasing decisions. With this massive spending influence, MTV’s brand has influenced many of these young people’s parents’ buying decisions and now it influences their children.

MTV has had 30 years in the public eye. Since its first broadcast on August 1, 1981 at 12:01 A.M., it flooded our homes with music from artists spanning the reach of the music world. That Saturday, the first songs we heard were from The Buggles, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, The Who, Ph.D., Cliff Richard, etc. That was the beginning of decades of music videos produced by artists spanning most genres from Rock & Roll, Hard Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Hip Hop, Jazz, New Age, Indie, Country Rock and more. The list goes on. Now, in 2021, however MTV no longer airs music videos, it only airs teen reality shows. MTV changed, right alongside the rest of the world.

The world slowly became acclimated to music delivery via video, MP3, and CD. Then YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, stepped up and streaming hit another G-spot in the American psyche. MTV’s slow transformation began when it first noticed some slippage in the viewership and began producing TV shows to make up the loss. In 1993, they first aired “Beavis and Butt-head”, with episodes running for four years and returning in 2011. Next, MTV took a spin-off of “Beavis and Butt-head”, “Daria,” another animated series, which ran for five years.

MTV was ready to capitalize on the celebrities its fans celebrated and created, “Cribs” debuted in 2000, featuring names like Missy Elliott, 50 Cents, and Ashton Kutcher. Fans could see their lifestyles up close and personal. Walk through their million-dollar homes and see how they pamper themselves with their pricey antique roadsters parked in multi-car garages. Fans could imagine themselves living the same glamorous lives. That same year, MTV aired “Jackass” starring friends getting together and doing ridiculous things that were often dangerous, but stupid. These were not all stars, but they captured the attention of MTV’s audience.

MTV kept heading into the same direction with additional productions of TV shows like the “Osbournes” (2002-2005), featuring Ozzy of Black Sabbath and his family living their lives in front of the camera. It was the first of the true reality TV series that would soon follow. The perfect follow-up was “Pimp My Ride.” It allowed the unimaginable to be realized. Who could have imagined anything you wanted in a car? Add anything you want to your car and turn it from a dog into a pimp’s dream car. The series aired from 2004 to 2007 with fans glued to the screen for every episode.

The Following Reality TV Shows Aired Next on MTV
• “The Hills” (2006-2010)
• “Jersey Shore” (2009-2012)
• “Geordie Shore” (2011 to present)
• “Catfish” (2012 to present)
• “Just Tattoo Us” (2017)

Today, an example of the MTV guide shows the schedule includes 16 half hour episodes of “Ridiculousness”, airing from 10:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M., a 2 ½ hour movie titled “Identity Thief”, a 2 ½ hour reality show called “Couples Retreat”, two half hour episodes of “Deliciousness” and two one-hour shows of “Floribama Shore” (MTV’s highest rated series in 2018).

It’s clear, MTV is about survival and thriving as a leader to reappear in whatever reincarnation, it must. Right now, reality TV is a must watch. So, MTV airs a variety of reality TV for its viewers, primarily young people aged 12-34 to maintain its edge in the popularity polls. It began its run with 26 consecutive quarters leading other cable TV networks in programming. It’s still among the most watched and it intends to stay there.