Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MTV Getting Help From 'Friends'

Viacom last year again installed new management at its struggling network—once known for being on the cutting edge of youth culture. Since the holidays, MTV's ratings among the millennial viewers it wants to connect with are up, thanks surprisingly in large part to a show that made its debut before some of those viewers were born: the iconic sitcom Friends.

Since installing Friends three weeks ago in a two hour 6-8 p.m. ET/PT block, younger viewers have been here for MTV, helping to boost the network's returning primetime shows. And the network hopes that Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross will help it launch a slate of new shows beginning next month, reports Broadcasting&Cable.

Viacom originally bought the rights to Friends for Nick at Nite and TV Land, but the company changed its deal with Warner Bros. to put the series on MTV as well.

"Friends no doubt is a show we hear about constantly in focus groups when we're with millennials. It's very top of mind, it's a show that's very aspirational for them," said Laurel Weir, senior VP of strategic insights and research for MTV. "Historically we're very picky with the acquisitions we might put on MTV and this was a huge get for us because it speaks to the audience so poignantly."

Friends has quickly become MTV's top-rated acquired program. In its first two weeks it improved its timeslot by 11% among women 18 to 24. It's attracting 46% more new viewers to the network among 18 to 24-year-olds and 56% more new viewers among 12 to 17-year-olds. And though it averaged slightly lower adult 18-34 ratings than the programs it replaced (Catfish and movies), the trend is good, with adults 18-34 up 8% week to week and women 18-34 up 10%.

The addition of Friends has contributed to a good month for MTV. Ratings so far in January are up 9% among people 18-34 and 7% among people 12 to 34, compared to December.

Turning around MTV is a priority for Viacom, whose youth-oriented cable networks have been losing viewers to digital entertainment options for several years.

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