Total Request Live, MTV's flagship music show, was launched in the UK this week in an attempt to replicate the success of the US version, filmed in Times Square, where it has gained notoriety for being "the booking" on stars' promotional schedules.
The format is simple - live music from A-list bands, viewer-voted top ten videos, guest appearances from homegrown and international celebrities and an up-for-it studio audience to help it all along.
Aimed squarely at the 16- to 24-year-old sector and broadcast live at 4.30pm everyday, the show's proposition is a compelling alternative both for the audience and advertiser, compared with the usual children's TV and cartoon reel scheduled at this time of day.
The UK launch faired well: an intimate showcase from the Foo Fighters, some cheeky horseplay with Angelina Jolie and a competent job from the relative newcomers Dave Berry and Emma Griffiths as the presenters of the show.
Although a slick production for its maiden run, it did seem to miss the big-crowd, big-noise feel that gives the US show its charge and makes it can't-miss viewing for this audience. It felt tamer and lacked the anything-could-happen live spontaneity that keeps US viewers glued. But it takes time for any programme to find its legs and the swap to its intended location of Leicester Square will give it a big "live from the capital" boost.
All in all, it's looking very promising. So should Wrigley, the show's sponsor, be happy right now? It's got the interactive, integrated opportunity it was sold - as well as show bumpers, the package includes exposure online, on the ground and MTV promotions on pack. But there is still a nagging feeling of a missed opportunity both for the format and the advertiser - with the brand power MTV has, with the audience buy-in it's got, couldn't this have been a chance to innovate in the way viewers collaborate in the programme experience?
You could tap in to the media sophistication and confidence of this audience by generating opportunities for interaction over and above voting. I know sponsor-facilitated activity outside of the show is easier said than done, but there aren't many brands that could pull something like this off. MTV could.
So, a winning vehicle for MTV? Probably. A compelling proposition for advertisers? Definitely. A true advance in brand viewer engagement? Not convinced. One thing's for sure, it is going to take more than Madeley in a pair of hotpants to compete.
Emma Foster, the managing director at Incline, used to watch He-Man and Dangermouse when she was able to get home for TV at 4.30pm.
Frequency: Monday to Friday at 4.30pm
Advertisers include: Wrigley (show's sponsor)