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MTV Looks For Another Hit: What About An Uplifting Reality Show?

MTV is looking for a kinder side of the TV world.

Those biting reality shows? Maybe all that's history -- MTV wants to start another trend, taking off from "Real World," which ushered in the current genre of reality TV in the early 1990s.

MTV says it wants to do more aspirational reality shows because that's what the Obama generation would be doing.

Quite noble. And there is some recent good history here. ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," NBC's "The Biggest Loser," and ABC's "Oprah Winfrey's The Big Give" have posted sturdy ratings in this arena.

MTV wants to take this genre even farther. In one example of a new show, "College Life," MTV gave some university students cameras to portray their lives, which president of entertainment Brian Graden says yields an "intense sense of reality" --  stuff that hasn't been on TV before.

MTV will roll out a massive slate of 16 new reality shows. Why? Because in television -- cable, network, and syndication -- the more times you get up to the plate, the better chance of getting a hit.  And MTV needs a hit.

The network has seen big rating declines -- 25% or more -- on a number of shows recently, including viewership dips in its now-signature series,  "The Hills." Fractionalization has hurt the broadcast networks in a big way. But we shouldn't forget it hurts cable networks as well, especially MTV's quick-to-wander young viewers.

Here's the good news: Advertisers says MTV still gets plenty of young viewers versus that of other cable networks and other TV programming.

Now the bad:  Hanging over the heads of MTV executives are those growing new digital media platforms.  Does MTV think it still needs to get viewers/consumers back from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube?  Sumner Redstone still lays plenty of blame on MTV's groggy performance in missing out on buying Internet juggernaut MySpace.

The reality?  MTV viewers are still just multitasking  -- a lot. Their TVs are still on - even as they are texting on their phones. They just need something cool, maybe uplifting -- if those words are still the right descriptions -- to watch.


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