MTV is ramping up production operations and getting into producing programming for other buyers with the launch of MTV Studios. It will be focused largely on developing and producing reboots, revivals and spin-offs of series from MTV’s library of more than 200 young adult titles in addition to new shows, predominantly unscripted.

MTV Studios’ initial slate includes animated comedy Daria & Jodie, a reimagining of MTV’s 1990s feminist series Daria, from writer Grace Edwards (Inside Amy Schumer); an update of the Emmy-winning coming-of-age unscripted series Made as well as recently reported live-action remake of MTV’s animated sci-fi series Aeon Flux, from Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis; and a return of the network’s groundbreaking reality series The Real World with Bunim/Murray Productions.

MTV

On the original concept front, MTV Studios’ slate includes two new shows, The Valley (working title), a timely coming-of-age docuseries in the spirit of The Hills and Siesta Key which follows a group of young friends growing up in the Valley town of Nogales, Arizona, a city split in half, with one side in the United States and the other in Mexico. The other is MTV’s Straight Up Ghosted, which follows young people trying to reconnect with lost friends, lovers and family members and confront them about why they have been ghosted.

Daria & Jodie, The Real World and Aeon Flux all are being pitched to streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix and Apple.

While MTV president Chris McCarthy noted that the network is “thriving” on a cable platform, “it is a little bit more limiting than it used to be, so the stories that we tell on traditional cable are going to be very different than the stories that we would tell in SVOD.”

VH1

Because the younger side of MTV’s traditional target demo of persons 12-34, the 12- to 17-year-olds, do most of their viewing online, MTV plans to reach them there. (Anything for) the younger set of the demo is going to be more on the SVOD partners. Anything in the 20 plus is going to be more for our traditional cable platform,” McCarthy said. “Things that are in the animation space, things that are in pure music longform, things that are in the teen and high school space — those are the things that we’re going to be looking more in the SVOD space. The traditional amplified and louder versions of unscripted reality, we’re going to continue to focus on that in cable.”

MTV

MTV did consider rebooting The Real World for the network before opting to go to SVOD. “We love the franchise, but what is so special about it is the purity of it. It didn’t have gimmicks, it didn’t have tricks, it didn’t have all the extra bells and whistles that the days unscripted required to work on cable,” McCarthy said. “You have a whole different generation of young people that are growing up that didn’t experience cable in the way you and I did. And so we’re able to go and actually retell that story, updated of course, with new characters, new tensions, new real-life issues, but still stay totally pure to the clean idea of what Real World was without having to basterdize it in order to make it work for traditional cable.”

The same decision was made about the new Daria and Aeon Flux shows. “It’s better served for us to bring that out and look to partner with a SVOD (platform) because it’s where the audience is looking for that type of scripted,” McCarthy said of the latter. As for The Valley, it could go either way. “We can focus it more on the high school side of it in which case it could actually be more for an SVOD partner; if we focus more on the older side of it, it will probably land more for our own platform,” McCarthy said.

The Real World is being done through MTV Studios and Bunim-Murray. MTV Studios is expected to produce most of its slate itself, only occasionally collaborating with an outside producer, in most cases someone the network has a strong relationship with, like Bunim-Murray and Jersey Shore‘s SallyAnn Salsano.

McCarthy noted that it is possible for MTV Studios to take another stab at rebooting MTV animated staple Beavis and Butt-Head after a recent short-lived revival on the cable network. This time it would be for SVOD. Ditto for a retrospective series MTV is planning for the upcoming 30th anniversary of Unplugged, which the company is potentially aiming at a music driven streaming platform.

For now, all SVOD-bound shows will be shopped to outside platforms though Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has indicated that there are plans for Viacom-branded direct-to-consumer services down the road.

The creation of MTV Studios had been in works for about a year, since McCarthy and head of programming Nina L. Diaz returned to MTV.  (The network previously has had a small in-house production operation to service the network but has never produced for outside outlets.) “One of the big things that Nina and I wanted to do when we came back was to really move back into a Build Model and away from a Buy Model,” McCarthy said.

MTV Studios will start with a stronger focus on series based on “the iconic IP because quite often that’s where the demand is;. re-inventions and re-imaginations are fueling so many different peoples growth,” McCarthy said. “I think it’ll eventually shift to a more of a 50-50 and hopefully to a 40-60. But, I think in the beginning, just based on demand, we’ll be a little bit more in the iconic.”

MTV

MTV owns the IP of most of the series that have aired on the network over the years, including shows produced by outside companies, like The Real World.

As for unscripted vs. scripted, “we cut our teeth in the unscripted phase; I think that’s really where we thrive,” McCarthy said. “We do really well in certain scripted stories that really appeal to us; they have traditionally been more in the animated phase and then the young adults phase.”

MTV is currently the fastest growing network on TV, with viewership in prime time up 21% year-over-year. Additionally, MTV attracted 2.9 billion streams in 2018, up +83% YoY, and has amassed more than 350 million social followers globally.

Here is a promo for MTV Studios and details about the projects from its launch slate:

“DARIA & JODIE” (wt)
The iconic animated franchise is reinvented through the eyes of heroine Daria Morgendorffer and one of her closest friends Jodie Landon. These two smart young women take on the world, with their signature satirical voice while deconstructing popular culture, social classes, gender and race.
Writer: Grace Edwards (Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Loosely Exactly Nicole, Inside Amy Schumer)
Production Company: MTV Studios

“AEON FLUX”
This cult anime classic is back for a live action remake, as the badass heroine assassin Aeon Flux teams up with a group of biohacking rebels in the not too distant dystopian future to battle a brutally repressive regime and save humanity.
Executive Producers: Jeff Davis (“Teen Wolf,” “Criminal Minds”) and Gale Anne Hurd (“The Walking Dead,” “Fear of the Walking Dead”)
Production Company: MTV Studios

“THE REAL WORLD”
The show that invented modern reality television returns to its roots. This reconnection to innocence for the trailblazing series strips away the polarization and cold anonymity of social media, the din of the 24-hour news cycle, and the facades of the instafamous culture to find out what happens “when seven strangers are picked to live in a house…stop being polite and start getting real.”
Production Company: MTV Studios and Bunim/Murray Productions

“MADE”
The groundbreaking, Emmy-winning life makeover series returns. In a world of 2D Instagram transformations, MADE pairs talented young underdogs with experts for face to face coaching for total life, real life reinventions.
Production Company: MTV Studios

“THE VALLEY” (wt)
In the spirit of “The Hills” and “The City,” this new show follows a group of attractive 20 somethings in a classic coming of age docu-series featuring first loves, relationships and life decisions – with a twist. This group of young people is living in “The Valley” of Nogales, Arizona, a town along the border of the United States and Mexico. This is the real life story of friends who are growing up on the edge of two countries, two cities as they share one Valley, their youth and common bond.
Production Company: MTV Studios

“MTV’S STRAIGHT UP GHOSTED”
While social media has connected the world more than ever, it has also undercut our ability to deeply connect and communicate. Today, critical relationship-ending conversations and confrontations have faded into digital dialogue or worse “ghosting.” This series explores real stories of real people who vanished by blocking them, and unlocks the reality and uncomfortable truth to satisfy the ultimate question–why did you leave me?
Production Company: MTV Studios