MTV At 30: Still Pushing Boundaries And Pioneering New Forms Of Media

I Want My MTVMTV turned 30 on Monday, but the network seemed to be the only one not interested in celebrating its major milestone.

Let’s face it, turning the big 3-0 is pretty much the end of youth, but there is no other TV network as synonymous with youth culture as MTV. It’s an institution that has remained relevant to fickle teens and college students for three decades. I can’t think of another that has, year in and year out, maintained that position…except maybe jeans and t-shirts.

MTV has always pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable, sometimes failing, but often spawning major trends: animation for 20-somethings (Liquid Television was a precursor to Adult Swim), reality TV (‘nuf said), news for young people (even Jon Stewart rose to fame on the network)...the list goes on and on.

There are those who lament that the network isn’t what it was 30 years ago, but, frankly, it shouldn’t be what it was then because young people today aren’t the same as young people decades ago. The changing media landscape forced MTV to “evolve and figure out” its new role.

That means, in part, that MTV doesn’t show many music videos any more (though its sister networks do) because times have changed. There are more than enough ways for people to find music videos, as Kurt Loder points out, and MTV specializes in giving viewers what they can’t get anywhere else.

These days, that includes a mix of reality programming and a revival of some old hits. For the nostalgic viewers, the network is bringing back “Beavis and Butthead,” which has the potential to be just as relevant today as it was back in the 90s because the show comes with a new twist. Instead of commenting on videos, the pair makes fun of everything on the network, from music to reality shows. Their sardonic wit is a perfect…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies