If MTV wanted to make it clear that it was the network for millennials, it did so with aplomb during its 2015 upfront presentation at New York's Beacon Theater Tuesday night. Featuring its top hosts and a concert by pop singer Jessie J, the network showcased what it would have to offer through the lens of the youth themselves.
"All these MCNs [multi-channel networks] saying TV is dead, they are in our offices begging to be on MTV," Girl Code host Nessa said on stage.
The network introduced eight new series, renewed 10 others—and announced a whopping 85 more shows in development. Returning shows include:
- Girl Code
- Teen Wolf
- Catfish: The TV Show
- Teen Mom 2
MTV president Stephen Friedman explained his slate of shows expresses millennials' "unbridled optimism" despite the fact that their "big dreams are harder to achieve."
"It means layered and ironic entertainment," Friedman said. "The virtue they value above all others is hustle."
Among the new shows:
- America's Best Dance Crew All-Stars: Road to the VMAs, which will focus on dance teams as they take on VMA-themed challenges.
- Middle of the Night Show: A late-night talk show developed with College Humor, in which host Brian Murphy arrives unannounced in a random celebrity's bedroom and convinces the star to be the show's co-host on the spot.
- Scream: The TV Series, based on the hit '90s horror series by Wes Craven, debuting June 30. MTV has updated the iconic slasher film for modern times, complete with references to connected homes and extremely rapid text messaging. (Sadly, Ghostface has gotten a makeover. The new mask is still spooky, but we have to admit we're a little nostalgic for the vintage look.)
If you needed further proof the '90s are back, MTV will also air Follow the Rules, a reality TV show about rapper Ja Rule. Despite the fact many of MTV's key demographic is too young to have experienced hits like "I'm Real" and "Put It on Me" while they were on the charts, MTV proudly touted the half-hour documentary series as a way for fans to keep tabs with the entertainer as he raises his family of teens and college-aged kids.
Echoing previous moves to include more online influencers in its programming, MTV will also be adding Todrick, a reality TV series debuting Aug. 31 about YouTube star Todrick Hall—who has amassed more than 180 million views on the platform—as he creates dance and music videos. It is also developing a scripted comedy series around Vine star Logan Paul, who has more than 7 million followers on the app and 20 million Vine views. The series will chronicle Paul's early days as an social media star.
Throughout the event, MTV prided itself on being able to connect marketers with the young demographic they covet. It promoted an "Always On" strategy, explained—mostly wordlessly in an acid trip-inspired montage—via Internet memes including Zayn Malik leaving One Direction and Taylor Swift. The audience looked mostly confused, although it did crack a smile at the bright flashing graphics.
The network also used online influencer talent to tout parent company Viacom's Social Talent Platform, a way for brands to connect with Internet stars for its campaigns. "Hopefully, [my show] will bring my Vine fans to the network," Paul said.
As for MTV, they're banking on it.