MTV President Says 'TRL' Isn't Canceled But Actually Expanding

Courtesy of MTV


MTV's Total Request Live reboot is not canceled, the network's president tells Billboard -- it's actually expanding. 

Despite reports Wednesday (March 14) that the show would not return from its current planned hiatus, MTV president Chris McCarthy says the series has been successful enough that there are plans to build out two more regular TRL programs: one in the morning and one for late night. 

TRL returned to MTV last October after the once-blockbuster afternoon franchise initially wrapped in 2008. And while its relaunch has been panned by some critics, McCarthy says it has done a great job of "aging down" or attracting younger viewers to the network during weekday afternoons. He also lauds triple-digit stream growth and says it sees more streaming and social media engagement than any other show on the channel, amounting to 20 percent of MTV's total social engagements. 

McCarthy says when afternoon show returns on April 9, it will be targeted toward the 12-24 age group where it's seen the most success. Meanwhile, the half hour late night show, Total Request Late -- which has been running twice a week at 11 p.m. since February -- will expand to four nights a week over the months leading to summer, specifically targeting the 18-34 demographic. And the new morning show, which is currently using the working title Total Request A.M., will be more broad-reaching for music fans of all ages with what McCarthy describes as "a pure one-hour music block that'll be almost a visualization of your playlist, as well as performances and interviews."

"Imagine the Today Show," he adds of the morning program, "but through a music filter."

All the shows will run on air, as well as digitally on MTV's app. 

As well as the ratings, McCarthy says TRL has proven beneficial to the network as a testing ground for new talent. He also praised the opportunity it offers to meet artists and make new connections. "And be honest with you, the most amazing thing has been that 300 kids come in the building everyday," he continues. "It is literally like a focus group for us every day. It's a living laboratory and it's part of what's allowed us to move so quickly and evolve the franchise and capitalize on the growth. In many ways, because we're live every day, we've been using it almost as a startup and it allows us to quickly evolve and it's had a big role in driving our success."