Earlier this week, the news started to pour out that thanks to a WGN America sale, the network looks to be shifting its focus away from scripted programming. Meanwhile, in the wake of Bates Motel ending over on A&E, the network will abandon such fare in the future.
Is MTV the third major cable network to walk back their scripted slate? What is for certain is this — they are not building much in the way of a roster. Teen Wolf is ending later this summer. Meanwhile, they canceled Sweet/Vicious just this past week despite it being inventive, edgy, and controversial … the sort of stuff that MTV in theory is supposed to be.
Now, the latest buzz is that MTV is moving The Shannara Chronicles season 2 over to Spike TV for a premiere this fall. Note that it’s happening before Spike changes its name to the Paramount Network, just to make things even more confusing given that if the show (featuring Manu “please by on Arrow more often” Bennett) ends up getting a third season. That’d be three different branded networks in the span of three years.
In a statement, MTV said the following:
“We’re honored to have worked with our extraordinary production partner, Sonar Entertainment, along with fantasy visionaries and executive producers Al Gough, Miles Millar, Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman and Dan Farah along with executive producer and best-selling author of the book series, Terry Brooks … We’re pleased that fans of the beloved franchise will be able to follow the characters and epic story they love on its new network.”
It makes sense for Shannara to move given that its fantasy lore isn’t really indicative of the MTV audience; still, it’s never good for a show to pivot like this midway through its run. This probably is less about anything that it’s down, and more about what its former network is doing clearing up the airwaves.
At this point, what MTV needs to be doing is simple — get people actually talking about things on their network again. Convince people they have to watch live. The problem with scripted programming is simple: Unless it is Game of Thrones or something with a massive Twitter audience, there is no incentive for anyone to watch live. Netflix and the other streaming services are killing the scripted broadcast / cable model. It’s understandable — if you get used to watching killer scripted shows without commercials, why switch back? They and other networks have to find away around that.
There is one scripted programming still on slate in Scream season 3 — though it should be noted that it only has a six-episode order.
What should MTV be focusing on in this era? Sound off now in the comments. (Photo: MTV.)