Let me ask you a question. If you controlled the MTV Video Music Awards show, would you have let Britney Spears open the festivities? I mean, did it take a genius to figure out that she'd probably be a bad idea? Her off performance comes at a bad time, considering a few of Viacom's
According to Marketwatch, MTV reported a ratings pullback during the second quarter; the channel's average rating was 0.6 (688,000 viewers) for the quarter, vs. 0.8 (826,000 viewers) in the previous year. Nickelodeon was said to be flat in its ratings performance, coming in at an average rating of 1.6 (1.7 million viewers). Unfortunately, since one of Viacom's most attractive investment angles is its cable division, this can only be perceived as a bad sign.
During the last conference call, CEO Philippe Dauman introduced a slate of new and returning series that Viacom is hoping will address the "soft spots" and build up a better block of programming for both MTV and Nick.
One of MTV's new shows, put on by Ashton Kutcher, is called Room 401. No, it's not a class about retirement accounts; it's sort of a horror-movie version of Punk'd, and it did well during its premiere. Other programs that are being looked at to bring back the viewers are Real World: Sydney, The Hills, Newport Harbor, and Life of Ryan -- all of which utilize the "reality television" recipe that MTV favors.
To help Nick counteract Disney
Will this new programming slate get MTV and Nick growing again? The jury's still out, but Dauman knows he needs to staunch the ratings bleed at MTV and Nick as soon as possible. Maybe he could take a page from Viacom's post-split counterpart, CBS
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney. After seeing Britney Spears earlier this week on MTV's awards program, he believes she needs some lessons on lip-synching. As of this writing, he was ranked 11,705 out of more than 60,000 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.