MTV’s Cameras Go to High School

Oct 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Continuing to shift away from celebrity-driven reality projects and capitalize on recent success with teen-based reality shows, MTV is shooting a behind-the-scenes look at a Southern high school football team.

Since July the network’s cameras have been following the practices and games of Alabama’s Hoover High School Buccaneers, who are trying to capture a fourth consecutive state championship.

Though MTV has spent months collecting footage of the Hoover, Ala., team, the network has not decided whether the Buccaneers program will be a series or a documentary, provided it makes the on-air programming cut, an MTV spokesperson said.

After recent celebrity-driven series such as “The Nick Lachey Project” and “Trippin” (with Cameron Diaz) fizzled rather than following in the successful footsteps of “The Osbournes” and “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” on MTV, the network still managed to enjoy a bright summer thanks to reality series starring young unknowns. MTV’s “The Real World: Austin” was the top-rated original series on cable this summer, averaging 2.3 million adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Strong performances also came in from “Laguna Beach” (averaging 1.7 million 18 to 49 viewers season to date), “My Super Sweet 16” (1.6 million) and the debut of “The 70s House” (1.4 million). For the third quarter, MTV was up 4 percent among viewers 18 to 49.

If greenlighted to series, the Hoover High project would be cable’s second take on small-town high school football since the release of last year’s theatrical film “Friday Night Lights,” which chronicled a team in Odessa, Texas. The first was ESPN’s weekly one-hour series “Bound for Glory,” which premiered Sept. 20. “Glory” tracks the Montour Spartans of McKees Rocks, Pa., and features as head coach Dick Butkus.

The first three episodes of “Glory” have not fared well, averaging 660,000 viewers 18 to 49. The Buccaneers, coincidentally, are one of few high school teams with enough national interest to have had their games aired on ESPN.

The as-yet-untitled Hoover project, the current top-rated MTV reality shows and MTV’s previously announced fall reality efforts all explore the genre without focusing on a celebrity. During the past couple years, bolstered by the success of “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” and “The Osbournes,” MTV was one among several networks that have launched a slew of celebrity-driven knockoffs.

Recently, MTV announced several new fall shows, including the network’s first import from MTV UK, “Bad Dads, Phat Mums,” where music fans recreate their favorite music videos using their parents as band members. Another is “The Reality Show,” a competition to find “the next big reality star.”

Last week MTV also greenlighted a new reality series, “8th & Ocean,” in which 10 wannabe models commune in a house in South Beach, Fla. Like “Laguna Beach,” the new series will be shot as a “reality drama,” without confessionals or contests and edited to resemble a narrative film.