From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, MTV was a Goliath in the music video industry but, as time passes and the world becomes increasingly digital, there may be no place for such channels in the age of new media.
Since the creation of YouTube and other video sharing websites, the internet has become most of the world’s primary sources for music and entertainment. When you can access practically any music video you want online, there is no need to sit down in front of the TV for your music entertainment. This is reflected in MTV’s ratings, which have been dropping by as much as 29 per cent a year as of 2015.
In addition to the ease of access for viewers, it makes far more sense for artists and recording studios to release music videos online: they will be seen by a wider audience, making more people likely to buy their albums. This increased viewership also increases the advertising revenue, making more profit for both the artist and the studio.
To combat their lack of viewers, MTV has tried taking their content in new directions, presumably to keep things fresh and get their viewers to stay invested. This new content has mainly been in the form of reality shows such as Jersey Shore and Teen Mom, which have met with mixed success. They have also become increasingly involved with politics; trying to get younger people to vote. These newer, non-musical endeavours likely reflect an attempt to draw in a younger viewer base. Despite not receiving as much praise as their older, music-based content, it has been just enough to keep the network alive: an impressive feat in the age of digital media.
Perhaps the best example of the internet making old media obsolete is the demise of Blockbuster. The movie rental service sprung to popularity at a similar time as MTV, and during its run it was a massive success, but they made the all-too-common mistake of failing to adapt to the digital age. In the year 2000, Blockbuster was made an offer to buy an emerging entertainment company called Netflix for $50 million but they declined. Netflix fully embraced the future of internet entertainment and soon Blockbuster was unable to compete, filing for bankruptcy in 2010.
MTV is yet to go the way of Blockbuster, but the cracks are there and they are only growing bigger as millennials rely less and less on traditional television channels for their entertainment.
Their attempts to garner new viewership by using new media and different styles of programming have done little to slow their descent. No matter what MTV does to stay relevant, it may just be too late for them to catch up with new media.
The truth of the matter is that traditional media is being threatened by the ease of access provided by new media.
While it remains to be seen whether their future attempts to adapt will be successful or not, the channel has been in decline for years. The death of music television channels cannot be prevented and, no matter how hard parent company Viacom tries to keep this sinking ship afloat, it will never again reach the levels of popularity and relevance of its golden years. MTV will be remembered fondly by everyone who relied on it before the internet fully took over, but nostalgia can only do so much.
Soon enough, MTV will have to take its final bow and step away from the spotlight to allow an exciting new medium to flourish.
Image: CorrelDraw@Wikimedia Commons