MTV focuses on millennials for success

MTV president Stephen Friedman.

Music helps define a generation -- maybe more than, but certainly just as much as anything else. Since MTV first went on the air more than 30 years ago, the channel has been the voice for the young.

Which could be a problem because consumers keep getting older. “We have to let go of each generation as they graduate out of it,” says the president of MTV, Stephen Friedman. And “that means constant reinvention.”

MTV’s original audience is pushing 50 now and the channel has stopped programming for Gen X’ers. The audience MTV’s looking at now are current 18- to 24-year-olds. Friedman says, “We have the luxury of just thinking about this audience.”

For those that claim MTV doesn’t play enough music, Friedman says it’s because they’re programming for Millennials. “Our audience understands, if they want a music video that they really want, they’re going to go online immediately.” He remembers waiting for the premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and says that’s not the way things are today. “The idea our audience is going to wait around for a video…just doesn’t exist.”
We wanted to hear about your favorite MTV memories throughout the network's long history. Here's what some of you said.

Tell us yours by tweeting us @MarketplaceAPM or commenting on our Facebook page.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.

MTV president Stephen Friedman.


I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...

Sustainability Coverage

  • The Kendeda Fund
  • Wealth & Poverty Coverage

  • The Ford Foundation