MTV announces “Unplugged” revival, new live music programming


In a likely effort to salvage dismal ratings, MTV is attempting to catch the nostalgia wave starting with the resurrection of its iconic Unplugged franchise later this year.

Though the network has very noticeably lost its musical focus over the years—even dropping the “Music Television” subheading from its logo in 2010—an upfront presentation last week revealed plans for a new slate of shows that includes a proper return for Unplugged, which has aired only sporadically since the dawn of the new millennium.

“We’re on a mission to reignite MTV with everything that makes it one of the world’s most iconic brands—its soul of music, its love of pop culture, and its unexpected, groundbreaking creative,” new MTV President Sean Atkins said in a press release.

The series was first introduced in 1989 and continued to grow in popularity over the next decade by featuring the biggest artists of the day performing stripped-down, acoustic renditions of their hit songs in a more intimate theater setting.  Memorable performances by the likes of Nirvana, R.E.M., Eric Clapton, Alice in Chains and the original lineup of KISS—the latter of which led to a full-scale reunion tour—helped drive it to the forefront of the channel’s original programming block.

In addition to the revival, the network is plotting Wonderland, a weekly live music showcase co-produced with Comedy Central that “delivers a smart, comedic take on pop culture at large” along with an as-yet-untitled hip-hop competition series from reality TV producer extraordinaire Mark Burnett described as a cross between The Voice and Shark Tank.

“What we share today is just the beginning, but it’s a strong first step in the journey and shows how aggressively we are moving to energize the extraordinary promise of this great brand,” Atkins continued.