Revamped MTV2 To Focus On Hip-Hop, Rock

MTV Networks on Monday (Feb. 7) will unveil a revamped version of MTV2.

MTV Networks on Monday (Feb. 7) will unveil a revamped version of MTV2. The relaunch will move the channel further away from its wide-open, all-music-video roots to programming focused almost exclusively on hip-hop and youth-oriented rock genres like emo and punk-pop -- an initiative MTV2 is billing as its "two-headed dog" strategy. The network will reportedly target the 12- to 24-year-old male demographic.

As part of the relaunch, MTV2 later this year will roll out a slate of original long-form programming that offers a mix of music-based and lifestyle shows.

When MTV2 was introduced in 1996 (then known as M2), it was positioned as a replacement for MTV's former incarnation. However, MTV2 has moved increasingly toward long-form programming, and the number and variety of videos it airs has declined.

Critics see the new direction as evidence that MTV Networks is further backing away from music videos, and that even the formats still supported by the channel will be narrowly defined and marginalized in much the same way pop music is on the flagship MTV.

For their part, MTV executives are unapologetic. "The days of MTV2 of being the Jewel-to-Tool station are over," says Tom Calderone, executive VP of music and talent programming for MTV/MTV2/MTVU. "The reason is simple: No one liked it. If you don't stand for anything and you don't have people who are deeply in love with you, you don't sell records, and nobody cares."

Calderone points out that while the branding for MTV2 will be new, the programming will stay much the same. In fact, MTV2 already has been focusing its music programming largely on rock and hip-hop, he says. "Our music-video hours have increased by double-digit percentages because we have been providing since the summertime of last year a very focused, hit-driven rock and hip-hop music channel," he says.