When MTV celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011 it was still the world's biggest entertainment brand as well as the most widely distributed television network, reaching almost 700m households in over 160 countries around the globe. By then, though, it had already passed its peak. Parent company Viacom was wrestling to halt a steady decline in viewing figures by shifting the main focus of the channel away from the music videos with which it first made its name towards reality and lifestyle programming aimed at a teenage and 20s audience. Early fly-on-the-wall experiment The Real World paved the way for a flood of similar shows like Jersey Shore, Catfish, Teen Mom and Are You The One? Yet whatever the future holds for MTV it has already secured its place in media's hall of fame. The channel's achievements are considerable. It completely transformed the nature of popular music during the 1980s and 1990s. It is also one of only a handful of media properties of recent years which has transcended its original format to become something close to a lifestyle brand. According to consultancy Interbrand, MTV is still one of the world's most valuable individual media brands (though it has slipped to second place behind Discovery Channel). Yet it began as simply a cheap way of filling a dead slot in a regional US cable system. How did it manage to come so far? And perhaps more importantly, how much further does it have left to go, now that it competes with even more nimble online rivals? The channel still has immense potential coverage, claiming 945m subscriber households in 179m countries in 2017. Yet actual viewing figures are still falling. In 2018, for the second consecutive year, the channel's flagship event, the MTV VMA Awards, attracted an all-time low audience of just 5.2m US viewers, almost half the figure of four years earlier. In 2017, the channel as a whole attracted an average daily audience of 392,000 18-49 viewers, less even than sister channel VH-1, and ranking it outside the Top 20 channels. Ten years earlier it was one of the Top Ten. Chris McCarthy is now president of MTV, its various spin-off channels, VH-1 and Logo. MTV is partnered within Viacom by a collection of other significant cable strands, not least Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET.
Capsule checked 12th October 2018
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Historical profile information for MTV
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Sept 2015: Ads of the Week "Tagline Here". MTV broke this totally weird and utterly cool spot for itself by director Benjamin Dickerson during the VMAs last weekend (and it was a lot nicer to look at than Miley Cyrus's tongue). Is it an ad? Or a parody of an ad? Who knows, but it's hypnotically awesome, and features a succession of extraordinary images that will bury themselves in your brain for the rest of this week.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Mar 2015: Viacom announced plans to take on streaming services Spotify and Deezer with two new digital music and video services branded under its widely recognised MTV brand. MTV Trax launches in the UK in a partnership with local mobile provider O2, and offers a daily selection of the 100 hottest music tracks as selected by MTV staff, downloaded automatically to users' phones overnight for a subscription of just £1 per month. MTV Play is a similar concept for music videos, and is being tested in selected European markets including Germany.
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