Monday, December 06, 2004

Why MTV is in Trouble

I recently read an article online stating that record company Universal is looking into starting their own music channel to compete with MTV. Apparently, the company is tired of giving videos to MTV for practically no cost, then watching as the channel runs episodes of "The Real World" and "Pimp My Ride" for hours on end. Warner has also expressed interest in a new channel.

The whole point of the labels giving MTV videos is so they can gain exposure, but since the videos aren't getting much airtime, the recording industry is threatening to make MTV start paying for music. I know it's ironic that MTV would be second on the list after KaZaA users, but that's beside the point. MTV only pays for exclusivity rights (in other words, so Fuse can't air those videos), but if a video is only going to air before noon and after midnight, it's no wonder the labels want them to start paying up. I recently TiVoed a 3-hour block of music videos to see what the big deal was.

First of all, the earliest time slot in which music videos were being aired was 3:00 that morning. This is the worst possible time slot for ratings (short of school hours), but MTV was probably running "Punk'd" reruns until then. The block kicked off with an exclusive from Snoop Dogg, and for the most part, it was all downhill from there. Most of the videos being played were videos that have been in heavy rotation for a while. Another exclusive aired about 90 minutes later, this time a Green Day video. The video itself was unusually good in terms of camera work and effects, making most of the other videos around it seem ridiculous. A fairly decent patch of videos followed, and my hopes for the network were rising. Sadly, it was not to be.

At 5:00, the "EXCLUSIVE" sign came on. I was hoping it might be a new video, but the minute the Snoop Dogg beat kicked up, I knew the network was running out of ideas. The Green Day video returned less than half an hour later, and I was left speechless. I now realize that MTV's most played videos aren't necessarily ranked by how well they do on "Total Request Live;" anything that is tagged as an exclusive becomes one of the most played, if not THE most played, of all videos on the channel. I don't know what Fuse does to get their videos, but they are gaining popularity because of how different their programming is. At this point, it's like MTV is making up for a lack of variety by adding more "Road Rules" episodes.

For music junkies like me who don't get Fuse or even MTV2, the only other options are VH1 and (maybe) CMT. VH1 has an awful lot of original programming right now that, while better than most of what MTV is offering, still can't quite replace MUSIC. I'm not too sure about whether having a single label control a station is a good idea, but at this point, anything would be an improvement.

Please wake up, Viacom. You're losing me.

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