How MTV Can Make Better Gaming TV Than G4TV

The shift is on at MTV, and gaming is the new “in”dustry to cover.  With two relatively successful ventures into professional and hardcore gaming on the hit “Real Life: I’m a professional gamer” series, a new show entitled “The G-Hole,” and the first Gam0RZ week in the bag, MTV is stomping into the gaming media.

G4 launched in April of 2002 and destined to be the premier gaming channel.  However, it did not pan out and even after a merger with Tech TV resulting in a name change to G4TV, the station is far from catching the attention of gamers. 

As G4TV now begins to fall off the gaming-centered line up and into a dull Spike TV rip off, it is apparent that gamers would rather play games than watch TV shows about gaming.  This doesn’t mean all the shows on G4TV were horrible, but none of them can be considered any sort of success.

The argument has been made that if other hobbies such as golf are able to support their own TV networks, why can’t the gaming industry?  It goes back to the point that gamers just don’t watch TV that much.  Most gamers interested enough in gaming to watch a TV show about it are not interested in top ten lists, cheats, arena style game matches, or which celebrities play which games.  On the other hand, golfers interested in golfing are much more apt to watch a show about improving their swing.

If gamers would rather play games than watch TV shows about gaming, then why would MTV pursue any gaming shows?  Gamers aren’t going to watch 24 hours of gaming-centered programming, seven days a week (definitely not enough to support their own channel).  However, they are much more likely to tune in a few times a week to catch a higher quality gaming show or special gaming programming.

MTV has hit the nail on the head with their approach.  They offer a scheduled time for gamers to tune in and enjoy a single show.  This allows that single show to focus on better quality subjects instead of several shows watering down several different topics.  Every subject doesn’t need its own show!

The next key for MTV is specials.  Shows like “Real Life: I’m a Professional Gamer” give candid glimpses into the lives of real gamers without diluting an entire station with shows about gamers and gaming.  It’s the proverbial field of dreams — “build it and they will come.”  However, just the ability to have a show doesn’t mean you should, and MTV seems to understand quality is greater than quantity when it comes to gaming.

Avoiding one dimensional themes is also important.  MTV has always been known to cover the less than glamorous side of things.  It can’t just be about games, but also about the culture surrounding gaming.  As this Joystiq article brings to light ]“Their(MTV) investigation of the support group “Girlfriends Against Video Games” paints a sad but true story of the increasingly common “gaming widow” phenomenon, although this is by no means limited to girlfriends as the article implies.”

Finally, MTV has given gamers a TV event to call their own: Gam0RZ week.  The second “Real Life: I’m a Professional Gamer” debuted during 2005’s Gam0RZ week and the XBOX 360 launch was covered live. 

The only downfall for MTV may be the target audience.  MTV is by far and large a teen-viewed channel while the age of the average gamer grows as the industry ages.  The people who spend money on games are adults, not kids.  Smart marketing people realize this and know targeting their commercials towards older demographics will be a vital part of a games marketing campaign. 

While MTV begins to whet the appetite of entertainment-starved gamers, they hopefully will catch onto an older audience that is concerned with such TV.  Recruiting Old Grandma Hardcore to review games as the Senior Reviewer for The G Hole is definitely a step in the right direction.

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