MTV, the network that brought us reality television in its modern form, has watched its ratings plummet this past year, which is why it is introducing a number of new and somewhat different shows.
The network’s ratings among viewers 12 to 34, its core demographic, are down 23 percent during the fourth quarter, while in the past six months, its “numbers for females 12-24 cratering 33% and males 12-24 dropping 24%,” Variety reports. Even The Hills has lost 26 percent of its viewers ages 12 to 34.
That’s led to what Variety calls “a major programming overhaul” for the network, although it describes the shows as “more toward the meta-scripted reality” of The Hills, which is odd because many of the new shows just announced seem like the opposite of that show, like College Life, which lets first-year college students film their own lives.
And MTV Networks president Brian Graden told the paper that the “new shows will feature themes of affirmation and accomplishment. Our shows are going to focus less on loud and silly hooks and more on young people proving themselves. These are themes that are consistent with the Obama generation.”
He did say that the network “needed a new visual language” and that some new shows will have “the cinematic feel of ‘The Hills.'” With College Life, Graden said “You get an intense sense of reality that you haven’t seen on television before. These are (techniques) that are interesting that I don’t see anyone else doing.”
At least MTV is keeping its short attention span: College Life‘s production and aesthetic has a lot in common with a Showtime series that debuted five and a half years ago.