Upfront 07

'Branded Roadshow' Proves Low-Key Affair

Road to the Upfront: MTV

By Published on .

Most Popular
The Player: MTV
The Date: April 17, 2007
The Venue: Nokia Theater, Times Square
Key Execs: Christina Norman, president, MTV; Brian Graden, president-entertainment, MTV Networks; Sean Moran, senior VP-ad sales, MTVN and Logo Group; John Shea, exec VP-integrated marketing, MTV Networks music group; Hank Close, president-ad sales, MTV Networks.
The Food: A smattering of post-upfront snacks, including crab cakes and another seafood mini-sandwich.
The Ratings Game: MTV remains the No. 1 network for reaching people 12 to 34, but dropped 10% in 2006 among adults 18 to 49 during prime time compared with the year before.
The Swag: Shockingly, none. MTV truly did scale things back this year.
Hank Close
Hank Close
The Digital Play: MTV Networks has MTV Mobile, MTV Online, Comedy Central's streaming video player and VH1's V Spot, among other successful off-network initiatives.
The Buyer's Verdict: Peter Knobloch, president of R.J. Palmer, told Ad Age last month that while he's happy to acknowledge MTV Networks' stronghold on the younger demographic, he worries it may be too much of a good thing as far as inventory goes. "The value of each one of those units is so strong and the impressions and audience they're generating is so big within that group. I don't think there's enough money in the marketplace [to support them]."

As the pre-cable upfront season winds down, the remaining networks have just a few more weeks to squeeze in their biggest talent, most high-tech video packages and strongest booze to woo potential clients. Surprising, then, that MTV attempted none of the three aforementioned stunts for its "branded roadshow" in New York yesterday. Instead, it opted for a more low-key presentation at the Nokia Theater. It's a far cry from its presentations of yore, which had been held at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center, complete with rock-star guests such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mariah Carey.

Granted, MTV Networks has fallen on some hard times since last spring, axing 250 positions in February and giving MTV CEO Michael Wolf the boot after less than a year -- not to mention losing the social-networking trophy to News Corp. "We didn't buy MySpace; we didn't buy YouTube. We're not a technology company," MTV President Christina Norman said. "Our goal is to create experiences for our audience and build ways for them to interact on an even deeper level."

To that end, the network unveiled a clip reel of some of its more recent branded-entertainment executions: making The Gap a key plot point on "Dance Life" and incorporating an Avon campaign into its teen reality series "8th and Ocean." It will also change its signature awards shows this year, making June's Movie Awards a live event for the first time and bringing new search partner Yahoo into the mix online.

In the original-programming arena, MTV unveiled more of the same with only a few twists. On the slate is "Making the Band" spinoff "Taquita and Kaui," the user-generated documentary series "Scarred" and its return to scripted programming with "Kaya."

Our personal favorite, however, was "House Broken," an anti-dating show of sorts focusing on what happens after live-in relationships turn sour. A clip of one characteristically melodramatic 20-something summed up the show's appeal thusly: "My boyfriend is not who I thought he was, and now I have baggage for the rest of my life, and it's all his fault."

The event was the second of five stops on the "branded roadshow" tour for MTV, which also visits Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit and Chicago. MTV entertainment networks Comedy Central and VH1 are doing the same for their respective presentations.
In this article: