MTV and TMZ Swap Places

Did you notice the shortened version of the MTV Music Video Awards? (those of you who were not scared off by Britney’s Spears horrific “performance,” I mean). NewTeeVee readers probably didn’t — you’re savvy enough to know you don’t have to sit through the commercials and lip-synching when you can just catch the highlights online. Or you have, well, better things to watch.

As The New York Times points out, in the age of YouTube and cell-phone video clips of concerts, MTV is adapting to find relevancy. So MTV cut the awards show to two hours from three, showcased multiple simultaneous performances, and made the actual handing out of awards almost an afterthought.

In other words, MTV — which, despite its game-changing genesis, has long been a traditional TV giant like any other — is shrinking to fit in with a generation raised on Web-styled entertainment. So it strikes me as especially ironic that Web giant TMZ.comis expanding with a half hour (traditional) TV show this week.

The TV version of TMZ is a syndicated entertainment news and gossip show that will premiere on 25 FOX affiliates across the country (representing about 41 percent of the population). It will compete with the likes of entertainment TV stalwarts such as Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

But should it?

Hiring a fleet of journalists to catch the celeb-of-the-moment “in the act” and hastily post the video online is one thing. Creating a half-hour show complete with graphics, editing and a script is another matter entirely. Then there’s the audience — will TMZ.com fans migrate to the TV? Will the attention span required by the Web be enough to support 30 minutes on TV? And of course it raises the editorial conundrum of whether being the first to post a story on the site will cannibalize the TV audience (and vice versa).

It’s worth noting that it was the quick-cut editing style of so many music videos that MTV (used to) play that pioneered an appetite for bite-sized bits of entertainment. Bite-sized entertainment, like the kind found on TMZ.com.


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