MTV aims for social media hit first, TV after

By Cory Bergman 

In one of the cable network’s biggest show launches in recent memory, Skins debuted Monday night on MTV. But for several months, the show has already debuted in bits and pieces online, thanks to an aggressive social media campaign.

“We did the reverse of what we usually do with a show,” Damon Burrell, VP of Marketing for MTV, told PaidContent. “Typically, we wait until a show has a certain following on TV, then build social media sites around it. In this case, we started the social media campaign about 4 months ago.”

Of course, this is the type of show that naturally adheres to social media, thanks to sexy storylines, half-naked teens and a slapdown from the Parents Television Council. But before launch, Skins TV had 50,000 Facebook fans, 9,000 or so Twitter followers and a scintillating Tumblr, to boot.

This approach to building an audience (on social media) before building an audience (on TV) makes a lot of sense, especially for producers desperate for an edge in today’s impatient world of TV programming. PaidContent has more here on the Skins effort.

Update: Skins debuted with a 3.4 rating in the 12-34 year-old demo, the biggest rating in that demo in the history of show premieres on MTV.