Case Study: the Evolution of Mtv and Muchmusic
P.J. Worsfold, 4/30/2007
What happened to all the music on MTV and MuchMusic? With its 24-hour broadcast dominated by music videos, MTV became "perhaps the most influential single cultural product" of the 1980s (Williams), while with an equally heavy musical presence, in the mid-1990s, MuchMusic was "the key to modern Canadian popular music, an indispensable myth-maker and… a deliberate nation builder in picture and sound" (Ward). Yet today, music videos account for just over 15% of MTV 's daily programming (altmusictv). Similarly, MuchMusic 's video flow, at 50% of its daily programming, is at the lowest level that its licensing agreement requires; a sharp decrease from 2000, when video flow accounted for 87% of their daily programming (CRTC 2006-380).
When they began, MTV and MuchMusic dominated their markets. In fact, one could argue that, MTV in particular, created a completely new market, a market that advertisers were willing to pay dearly to access. Yet today, competition for the ears, eyes, and minds of the youth is fierce and advertisers have many options to reach this fickle market. Aside from traditional sporting and entertainment offerings, MTV and MuchMusic are in bitter competition with websites, video games, cell phones, iPods and a host of other technologies; each of which are teeming with some form of corporate sponsorship. With their dependency on advertiser revenue and their obligations to their respective parent companies, an economic imperative long ago eclipsed any allegiance to music that may have once existed in the upper echelons of these two music broadcasters. MTV and MuchMusic are squarely in the business of providing advertisers access to a particular demographic, the nature of their programming is irrelevant, as long as it captures and holds the right audience. Through an endless cycle of focus groups, opinion polls, ratings reports, and schedule retooling, the former purveyors of
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