Despite sagging ratings, community outcry, and an exodus of sponsors, MTV and the producers of the controversial teen drama “Skins” are doubling down on the series, a source tells FOX411.
“They are not canceling it,” an MTV insider tells FOX411. “Instead, they are putting the marketing machine full force behind promoting the show.”
They will have to.
More than half a dozen advertisers, including in Taco Bell, Wrigley, Subway, Foot Locker, L’Oreal and Shick have all withdrawn their sponsorship of the show. The Parents Television Council, in addition to targeting sponsors, called on lawmakers and feds to open an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation on MTV’s “Skins.” The youngest actor on the sexually-charged drama is 15.
But this isn't fazing the network, according to a rep. “Skins has earned the loyalty of fans across the globe for its thoughtful and honest portrayal of teen life today. An internationally acclaimed scripted drama, the show has been honored with a long list of prestigious awards. MTV stands by the US adaptation of 'Skins' and the vision of its creator Bryan Elsley," the network said in a statement.
"The show is the opposite of pornography," “Skins” creator Bryan Elsley said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It isn't us who are being provocative. I think that some of the people who object to the show are being provocative in the use of that word."
MTV plans to air all 10 episodes of the series, without altering any of the objectionable content—come hell or high water, the source said. This comes after another MTV source told FOX411 that the show was "in danger" of heading to the chopping block due to its advertiser and ratings woes.
Why would MTV, which by some estimates stands to lose up to $2 million per episode, continue to finance what could be a money-losing venture?
“There’s probably some ego involved,” Charlie Menduni, media director of Mediassociates, tells FOX411. “There are people (at MTV) who have put their reputations on the line to some degree, saying that (“Skins”) is a program that they think is going to succeed with a U.S. audience, so it’s kind of hard for them to back away from that.”
"Skins'" lost almost half its viewers with its second episode, dropping from 3.3 million from 1.6 million viewers. Despite the audience loss, “Skins” ratings among its target demographic of 12- to 34-year-olds still compared favorably with the CW’s “90210” and “Vampire Diaries.”
“Whenever you launch a program, you obviously expect some kind of fall off, but half is pretty dramatic,” Menduni explains to FOX411. “I think a few weeks into the show, they’ll make a decision. If they see a continued decline, or if the numbers ultimately don’t support what rates they need to make—then they will pull it. Even though they say that they’re going to support it with a ton of marketing—we’ll see.”