MTV Begins to Finally Embrace the Age of Social Media Influencers With New YouTube Originals

Published on December 27, 2019

MTV has always pushed the envelope when creating content. The same network that brought us Yo! MTV Raps, The Real World, The Hills, Teen Mom, Wild ‘n Out, and other TV franchises are gearing up to evolve once again — this time on YouTube.

Over the past two years, MTV made strides to attract young viewers by posting clips from their linear programming to their YouTube channel with the hope that the audience would tune into their LIVE channel.

Recently, MTV began producing digital-only content of their franchises like Wild ‘n Out and Catfish but slowly branched out to producing original digital shows starring social media influencers.

We’ve made this enormous investment in digital-first content and working with digital talent,” Kelly Day, president of Viacom Digital Studios, said. “This presents an unprecedented opportunity for our advertising partners to join the conversation.”

In July, MTV premiered an original documentary series on its YouTube channel starring lifestyle influencer Tana Mongeau called “No Filter: Tana Turns 21.” The series garnered 134,000 new subscribers to their channel within 24-hours of its release.

According to Rory Brown, head of digital and social at MTV, the network has been able to grow its audience on YouTube and turn a profit from its original programming. The relationship between YouTube and MTV has not been the best given Viacom’s copyright lawsuit against YouTube that was settled in 2014, but the MTV-branded YouTube content channel signals a new day for both entities.

Since embracing YouTube, MTV’s main channel accumulated more the 80 million views this year, up from the 29 million views from last year, and added more than 190,000 subscribers per month, according to Social Blade. MTV’s embrace of the digital space and commitment to creating a loyal audience on multiple platforms show the television channel could turn a profit and its parent company can make money beyond MTV’s YouTube channel.

You’ve got consumer products. You’ve got content licensing. You’ve got other monetization and brand opportunities versus just building a show,” Rory Brown said.

With the merger of ViacomCBS complete, the possibilities seem endless.

Jennifer Matthews is an Editor-at-Large at Grit Daily. Based in New York and formerly a producer at CNN, she is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Recording Academy, Women in Music, and an ASCAP Affiliate. A media pro and producer of content, she mentors and advocates for diversity and is a regular on the events coverage beat for Grit Daily.

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