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Viacom Counts on MTV's Shock Appeal

MTV's ratings rebound has given parent company Viacom a profitable boost.



) -- Entertainment content company Viacom, which owns and operates MTV Networks, has seen a revival with its network's recent ratings rebound.

MTV has long ago abandoned it's mission of bringing music to the masses in favor of providing entertainment through reality and documentary programming. Shock value and teens wrestling with controversial issues has become MTV's stock in trade. In earlier years, the network was known for its gritty reality show,

Real World

. Once that show had become old and repetitive, MTV needed to find a program that would attract viewers in its usual 12 to 24 year old age group.

In 2009, MTV began drawing an audience for its new television show

Jersey Shore

, helping to boost Viacom's advertising revenue by 4% in the second quarter.

The network has several other controversial shows such as

Teen Mom


16 and Pregnant

to pull in viewers. As MTV continues to see its viewership grow, it hopes that the buzz around

Jersey Shore

doesn't die down soon.

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Here's a look at the MTV spectacles that have given Viacom a boost.


Real World

debuted in 1992, the reality show was acclaimed for depicting rarely before seen controversial "real world" issues. Each season, MTV casts seven or eight 18 to 25 year olds from thousands of applicants and films their experiences as roommates. Over the years the show has been known for dealing with touchy subjects such as politics, religion, sexuality and addiction.

The show is currently in its 24th season, proving MTV's confidence in the program's format. The network has kept it on the air despite its steady decline in ratings and viewership. As viewers continue to drop off, MTV scrambles to find that shock factor that

Real World

has lost over the years.

Jersey Shore

was a summer success and has helped MTV with its recent ratings rebound. The program was the No. 1 show of the summer and it improved MTV's third quarter ratings by 23% year over year.

The first season of show debuted in fall 2009 and since its premiere more and more viewers have tuned in to see what wild times "Snooki," "The Situation" and "JWoww" will have with the rest of their roommates. The show has stirred up controversy regarding Italian-American stereotypes, but drawing attention through controversy is not a foreign concept to MTV.

Season two of

Jersey Shore

took place in Miami, Fla., but will return to its original location in Seaside Heights, N.J for the third season. With each season comes a new price tag for MTV, which needs to hold onto the cast. MTV will reportedly give the cast close to their initial demand of $30,000 an episode.

But the cash flow doesn't stop there. Some of the more well-known members, such as Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino, charge up to thousands of dollars for an event appearance. Sorrentino has been known to charge venues $7,500 or more for his presence alone in hopes he will attract the paparazzi.

These star studded kids understand what it is that MTV is after, and they are playing the part perfectly.

MTV has been hosting the annual Video Music Awards show since 1984 to honor the greatest music videos of the year. In that time, the VMAs have gone from a night known for celebrating musical talent to a night more known for its outrageous moments on live television.

At last year's VMAs, when Taylor Swift was receiving her award for Best Female Video, rapper Kanye West made a big scene. He stormed the stage, grabbed the microphone out of her hand and said "I'm sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time."

Everyone in the audience and viewers at home were stunned by the whole ordeal, but ultimately entertained.

Every year viewers tune into the VMAs to see what controversial spectacle the U.S. pop-culture celebrities will provide. The 2010 VMA viewership was up 27% from 2009 to 11.4 million which was the biggest audience for any telecast on MTV since 2002, reported.

Jaws dropped when Lady Gaga appeared on stage wearing a dress made from cuts of meat to accept the Video of the Year award for her hit song,

Bad Romance


To get viewers ready for the VMAs, MTV aired a

Jersey Shore

season two marathon leading up to the live awards show.

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