Cable TV is Lost

We all know that person, and that person could be you, who has complained that MTV just isn't MTV because they don't play music videos all day. Everything would be better if they were just like they used to be. Well, guess what. That's what MTV Classic does; all day, non-stop music videos. And guess what; you're not watching it. MTV Classic is the least watched entertainment channel.

MTV Classic started life with hopeful viewers intending to see the shows and music videos that made MTV. Instead, we got reruns of shows from the late '90s, with the oldest shows being The Real World, Aeon Flux, Jackass, and Daria. Not even the original Beavis and Butthead ever aired, just the 2011 reboot. This angered viewers, or would-be viewers. For the first couple months of the network's life, the MTV Classic Facebook page posts were flooded with enraged fans either demanding MTV Classic air shows older than the late '90s, or just air music videos. So, Viacom chose the latter. Now, no angry comments, but also, no viewers.

MTV Classic is a curiosity. Was the goal simply to just focus on millennials to try to get them back to watching television, or were they just trying to work with a no-budget way of forming a channel? Unless Viacom really never intended to branch out the programming timeline, I can only assume that for MTV to air classic shows from way back when, they would've had to pay for all the music they used in the shows that they may no longer have the rights to. This is a lesson to cable channels across the board: either go all the way, or don't even try.

The same goes for Pop, the previous TVGN, or TV Guide Channel. The channel started out as a Trio-like channel geared for pop-culture programming. Now it's just reruns of That '70s Show, and Celebrity Name Game. Both great shows, but not what the channel was originally for. The same also goes for The Splat, the nighttime block on TeenNick that was originally for classic Nickelodeon shows that mainly just sticks to the late late '90s for programming and nothing else.

I'm sure there's countless examples of network decay, but one good example of a network sticking with their original game plan is TBS. Before the rebranding in 2015, TBS was a painfully generic comedy channel. Sure, it's the home of my man Conan, but it was also the home of countless horrible sitcoms, including but not limited to Sullivan and Son, Ground Floor, and Men at Work (not the band). All lazy sitcoms that just plain old bother me, damn it. It doesn't matter what I think, the shows all did pretty darn good, averaging just below 2 million viewers, which is pretty good for cable. TBS didn't have to rebrand themselves, they could've continued airing crap and they would've been fine, but they decided to go for a more millennial shift, I suppose, and create really smart comedies with a unique brand identity. They even try new things, like binge marathons of complete seasons of shows, and critics at least love it. It proves that we don't need reboots, and nostalgia to get people back to television, we need compelling content. And even if we're not watching on cable, let people watch where they watch, like Hulu, or Sling, and just create a pay service on the channel's website. Which is where Viacom is screwing up again by discontinuing their contract with Hulu. Hulu is what a lot of people use as a replacement for a DVR, so by removing content from it, you're just removing viewers, plain and simple.

I may be one of the few millennials who cares about cable TV, but if networks want to keep people paying attention to their content, they need to do new things to get people interested. Because sure, I like That '70s Show, but I can also watch it somewhere else, and even pick the episode I want.


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