What's in a name, anyway?
Two weeks ago, MTV stared taping two episodes of Total Request Live at once, which, while an effective way to cut costs, kinda defeats the purpose of an interactive, vote-for-your-favorite-video-from-home type of show.
But that's apparently just the way things are in this numbers-crunching, Laguna Beach-laden world we're living in.
Once the launching pad for pop mega-stars such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson, not to mention original host Carson Daly, who left in 2003, TRL has lost the majority of its steam in recent years, with the New York Daily News reporting in January that viewership is at an all-time low.
Back in 1999, a year when the Backstreet Boys were tops with the teens and Eminem hit the mainstream with "My Name Is," TRL averaged 757,000 viewers a day, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Meanwhile, the series' current incarnation, cohosted by veejays Vanessa Minnillo, Damien Fahey, Susie Castillo, La La Vasquez, Stephen Colletti and Cipha Sounds, is attracting about 351,000 pairs of eyes and the 12-to-17-year-old audience is half of what it was two years ago.
The show still draws tons of big names—including, more recently, My Chemical Romance, Beyoncé and Fall Out Boy—but now the video showcase is up against MySpace, iTunes, YouTube and about a million other places where people can discover fresh artists and new music.
Hence, MTV's decision to extend the shooting schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays. On those days, TRL lives up to its name and premieres live, while another episode is taped afterward for televising on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"We're not editing anything," network spokeswoman Marnie Black told the Associated Press. "We're not changing anything. The spirit of the show is going to be exactly the same."
Of course, the music-video countdown has never been totally live, exactly. Just as shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live are live-to-tape programs that air at least three hours after-the-fact on the West Coast, the same goes for TRL.
Despite the increasing competition it faces, TRL is still considered an international phenomenon, having spawned offshoots in the U.K., Italy, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Poland, Canada and more.
"We're still committed to the show and it's the cornerstone of the afternoon schedule," Black said. "TRL is not the same show as it was when Carson Daly hosted it. The show has evolved and will continue to evolve."