By Mike Reynolds — Special to TVWeek
Its Nielsen ratings in decline, MTV emphasized its digital and social prowess during its upfront presentation to advertisers yesterday, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at the landmark Beacon theater on New York’s Upper West Side.
The message manifested in terms of numbers – the brand has 220 million social media fans – and with programming transmogrified to linear from stars of the YouTube and Vine.
The network, whose broad audience targets the 12-to-34 set, announced that docuseries “Todrick,” showcasing quadruple threat Todrick Hall — he of 200 million YouTube views — will trail the video producer extraordinaire. The show, bowing Aug. 31 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), comes from Brian Graden Media, with the former MTV chief, Danny Salles, Louis Curren and Gaurav Misra serving as executive producers.
The youth-aimed service also said it had inked a development deal with Vine sensation Logan Paul – he counts 7 million fans on the platform – for a loosely scripted comedy following his brother and him via a behind-the-scenes look at their stunts and pranks.
MTV also talked up a pair of late-night entries. It greenlit the “Middle of the Night” show, based on CollegeHumor’s web series of the same name in which an “unwitting” celebrity hosts a talk show after the show’s crew and a live band crash his/her bedroom. Brian Murphy will serve as the celebrity’s cohost and guide throughout the evening.
“Girl Code Live” bows Aug. 31 at 10:30 p.m., as a weekly half-hour late night show featuring Girl Code’s Awkwafina, Nessa and Carly (the latter two were among the hosts at the Beacon) helming celebrity guests, musical artists, games and candid distaff-speak in front of a live audience.
MTV opened matters with a seven-minute clip from its series adaptation of the “Scream” franchise. After the screening of her modern, high-tech version of the Drew Barrymore opening, Bella Thorne, who barks commands to her automated home, dons a black bikini before unwisely entering an outdoor hot tub and then meets her own grisly end, appeared on-stage to discuss the virtues of the series that debuts on June 30.
The network, looking to cut its own slice of “Game of Thrones’” phenomenon with a youthful cast in a futuristic setting, also unveiled the first look at “The Shannara Chronicles,” the adaptation from Terry Brooks’s fantasy book series. MTV president of programming Susanne Daniels (“Finding Carter” and “Faking It” with the network) said there would be a nine-month multiplatform marketing campaign ahead of MTV’s most ambitious series to date, currently shooting in New Zealand.
Looking to again mine musical family drama — real, faux or embellished a la “The Osbornes” and “Rev Run’s House” — MTV is opening the door to “Follow The Rules,” a look at rapper cum actor Ja Rule, who was in the house, and his large, extended family.
Also on tap: the half-hour weekly “Greatest Party Story Ever,” which animates epic tales of debauchery, friendship and celebrity encounters.
All told, MTV has eight new series, 10 returning shows and more than 85 series in development, according to Daniels.
On the renewal list: “Are You The One?,” “Broke A$$ Game Show,” “Faking It” and “The Challenge” for a 27th season. Among the returning skeins “Girl Code,” “Teen Wolf,” “Teen Mom 2,” “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “Awkward and Catfish.”
The latter’s star Nev Shulman introduced the network’s push for its ongoing “Always On” initiative wherein the MTV brand can harness the power of its 220 million social followers — a group continually tweeting, texting and snapping — to create and distribute real-time video and editorial content across on-air, online, mobile and social outlets.
The author of this piece, Mike Reynolds, is a veteran media and sports reporter and was most recently the news editor at Multichannel News. You can reach him at email@example.com or 914-320-6532. We appreciate Mike making this piece available to TVWeek.