November 7, 2016

MTV Classic's Introdution

This summer (in August 2016), there was news (see the Rolling Stone article at for more), that Viacom's beleaguered MTV unit would do something it had never done before: admit that it was aging.

Well, not exactly.

What Viacom did was intended to be a nostalgic look at MTV's role as a cultural vanguard in American youth culture.  In reality, the media company was trying to recreate that feeling as much as it was trying to reuse old programming that MTV had already developed.

Remember, in 2011, Nathaniel Brown, then an MTV executive said:

"MTV as a brand doesn't age with our viewers," explained Nathaniel Brown, [then] senior vice president of communications for MTV, who confirmed that there were no plans for an on-air MTV celebration. "We are really focused on our current viewers, and our feeling was that our anniversary wasn't something that would be meaningful to them, many of whom weren't even alive in 1981."

Catch the media conglomerate's TV commercial at for more on the introduction of MTV Classic.

The real challenge is that this is "classic" network is geared mainly towards MTV's second iteration (not its first, hence the term "classic" is kind of a misnomer), with original MTV programs like the animated cartoon Daria, Beavis & Butt-Head and Pimp My Ride, all of which usurped the network's first generation of programming which consisted almost exclusively of music-related content including music videos and concerts.

Unfortunately, the youth of 2016 looks quite different from youth of 1990, not to mention the youth of 1981.  Much of the content today is on-demand and watched from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, on channels like YouTube, where some of the most successful content is actually created by young people themselves.  That makes MTV's recent introduction of "MTV Classic" far from a guaranteed success with the core youth demographic.

NPR had an interesting story on the news at

It's an acknowledgement of sorts (marking MTV's 35th anniversary), but it's unclear just how successful the launch will be (heck, the youth of today are more cord-cutters than any group in history, check out this Mashable article at for more) doesn't even subscribe to cable (though they may get it if they still live with Mom & Dad), so its unclear just how successful MTV's recent move will be, but who knows?!

Regardless, this isn't stopping the media giant from trying.

No comments: