On April 10, MTV became a subject of conversation when its award show broadcast proved the network had officially fell out of touch with its millennial audience.
The evening, hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart, was filled with poorly-written dad jokes, awkward audience cutaways and a cringe-worthy Salt-N-Pepa performance backed by Deadpool dancers. As jam-packed and spontaneous as shows in years past have been, this one seemed eerily mediocre at best.
Previous ratings of the show suggest the network might have lost its touch a while ago—seeing record-low ratings last year with an average of 1.55 million viewers.
The big problem here is not only that the network thrives on young viewers for ratings but rather, that a network as big as MTV has failed keep up with the times.What this says about traditional media is that changes are not only recommended, but required in order to stay relevant.
The network, built on music, currently leads with shows like Teen Mom and Catfish (both unscripted reality shows). The landscape of the network’s television slate provides a clear sense that execs are willing to produce any content that will attract the eyes of viewers, no matter how distasteful.
What is most unsettling about this revelation is knowing the vibrant role MTV has played within the history of pop culture. If the network continues to go down this self-destructive path of being a pop culture follower as opposed to a leader, then there is no telling how much longer the network will survive.
For today’s youth, not having a television channel that quenches all of their desires only pushes them further and further away from consuming media in the traditional way. Taking the interest out of MTV allows for viewers to look for their fix in other places and on other platforms.
As baffling as it is, MTV award shows are supposed to be a time for the network to expand viewership and introduce new eyes to the network. Based on the outcome of their latest production, it does not seem like that expansion will be happening anytime soon.