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Women Want Their MTV Too

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Brian Graden, president of entertainment for MTV and VH1, is up front about the fact that he doesn’t actively court female viewers.
“For broad brands like MTV or VH1, you have to draw both men [and] women. Therefore, we’d rather greenlight things where we think we can draw enough of all people,” said Mr. Graden, who has overseen femme-friendly programming such as “Newlyweds” on MTV and various nostalgia clip shows on VH1.
Last fall Mr. Graden launched his first slate of series and specials on VH1, shepherding more than 600 hours of original programming, including the highly rated miniseries “I Love the 80s.” “For VH1, the brand has evolved as a pop culture music brand, so that programming tends to lean female. But we don’t want either network to be Lifetime in any sense,” said Mr. Graden, who joined MTV in July 1997 as executive VP, programming.
In January 2000 he was promoted to president, programming, MTV and MTV2, and in May 2002 he was named president of entertainment for MTV and VH1. Mr. Graden was formerly executive producer of Comedy Central’s animated hit “South Park.” Early in his career, Mr. Graden owned his own company, which produced several shows, including “The Dating Game” for national syndication.
While MTV and VH1 are not actively seeking female audiences, young women are clearing showing up in droves. MTV is the No. 1 cable network among females 18 to 34 in prime time, and VH1 ranks second among women 18 to 49 in total day.
“We want women to watch MTV and VH1, but the brands shouldn’t be identified by gender. There’s a real blurring of the gender lines with this generation, so it’s less and less clear that a particular show is geared to a particular gender,” said Mr. Graden, who added that “many of the shows that focus on real relationships-whether it’s `The Real World’ or `Viva La Bam’- tend to appeal to women in our demo.”
But Mr. Graden points out that it’s easy to fall prey to assumptions and stereotypes about what women want to watch.
“During the height of boy bands and Britney Spears, females were very interested in MTV,” he said. “Now that rock and hip-hop have become more popular, we assumed that the music shows would skew more male, but that hasn’t been the case.”
Brian Graden
Job title: President of entertainment for MTV and VH1
Date of birth: March 23, 1963
Place of birth: Hillsboro, Ill.
Length of time in current gig: 7 years
Why him? Under his leadership, MTV is the No. 1 cable network among women 18 to 34, and VH1 ranks second among women 18 to 49 in total day, according to Nielsen Media Research data provided by MTV Networks. New shows such as “Camp Jim” and “Sorority Life” on MTV and “I Love the 80s” on VH1 skew heavily female.