MTV to Launch ‘Classic’ Channel as Cord-Cutting Hurts Viacom Ad Sales


MTV will take over VH1 Classic and re-brand it MTV Classic, bringing with it a slate of television shows like Beavis and Butthead and Daria that helped fuel the network’s growth in the 1990s.

MTV Classic will launch on August 1, 35 years to the day that MTV launched in 1981, according to a network press release.

The new channel will feature “an eclectic mix of fan-favorite MTV series and music programming drawn from across its rich history, with a special focus on the 1990s and early 2000s.”

The launch of the new channel is set to begin with MTV Hour One, a re-broadcast of the first hour of MTV’s programming that will air simultaneously on Facebook Live, followed by a Total Request Live retrospective and a “best-of” of the network’s popular acoustic music series Unplugged featuring performances by Nirvana and Eric Clapton.

The network’s primetime slot will be filled with classic 90s television shows like Beavis and Butthead, Daria, Pimp My Ride, Run’s House and Aeon Flux, while weekends will feature marathons of early reality series like Real World and Laguna Beach.

“From Beavis & Butt-head to Laguna Beach, MTV’s programming vault is a music and pop culture goldmine with universal resonance,” MTV president Sean Atkins said in a statement. “MTV Classic gives audiences a modern and artful home for classic MTV programming and — alongside MTV, MTV2, MTV Live and mtvU — rounds out a diverse portfolio with music and youth culture at its core.”

The launch of the new channel comes as MTV parent company Viacom prepares to announce earnings on August 4. The media conglomerate is under tremendous pressure as cable cord-cutting among American consumers has accelerated, leading to declining ad sales. The company is expected to announce earnings of $1.00 per share, below expectations and down sharply from the $1.47 per share reported in the same quarter last year, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The company’s film unit has also been hurt by the financial failure of this year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Earlier this month, Wells Fargo cut Viacom’s stock to “underperform,” though maintained a target price of $38-$40 per share, according to the New York Post.

In addition to its MTV Classic channel, the network is trying other ways to reconnect with a millennial audience watching far less traditional television. In June, the network partnered with progressive organizations including Planned Parenthood and Everytown for Gun Safety to launch a voting initiative for the 2016 presidential election geared toward millennials. The initiative, called “Elect This,” aims to inform younger voters on issues including climate change, gun control, racial injustice, immigration and healthcare.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum



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