SAY WHAT?

The biggest star on the new “Total Request Live” might just be its host from YouTube

MTV was once the epitome of appointment TV for teens of the 1990s and 2000s, who’d rush home after school to catch the latest editions of Total Request Live, Say What? Karaoke, Making the Video, and reality shows like The Real World. In its hey day, TRL launched the careers of video jockeys, or VJs, like Carson Daly, and kick started the careers of artists like Britney Spears, NSYNC, and Eminem.

Then, YouTube made every music video one could ever imagine available for free online. And MTV became irrelevant.

The ailing music TV network is relaunching TRL, once its flagship show, and has reportedly tapped internet personality Liza Koshy to host the revival, on which all its hopes for reinvention rest. The Viacom-owned cable network, whose ratings have taken a tumble, recently said it would bring back the old music-video countdown show in New York as the centerpiece of MTV’s comeback bid.

In another blatant nostalgia play from the mid-2000s, shows like Fear Factor and My Super Sweet Sixteen are also coming back.

This all shows the US TV network is still figuring out how to connect with the new generation of Spotify- and YouTube-listening young people who don’t need MTV to curate music for them, or its dull reality programming to entertain them. It’s hoping Koshy can help.

The 21-year-old Texan first made a name for herself on Vine, and rose to YouTube stardom driving around, making trips to the dollar store and Target, and hilariously impersonating her friends in short weekly videos, usually under 10 minutes.

She posted her first YouTube video two years ago, and her channel became the fastest to reach 10 million subscribers last month. She has almost 11 million subscribers on her main account now, and another 4.4 million on her second YouTube channel, where she interviewed US president Barack Obama last year. She has more than 45 million followers in all, across social media.

Koshy is no stranger to scripted and live programming, either. She starred in the Hulu series Freakish, and co-hosted Twitter’s Golden Globes pre-show this year.

On air, she’ll join the new TRL‘s five relatively unknown rotating hosts: rapper, comedian, and internet personality DC Young Fly, Chicago radio host Erik Zachary, DJ and actress Amy Pham, journalist and TV personality Lawrence Jackson, and Complex writer-producer Tamara Dhia.
The new hour-long reboot will be broadcast daily from a new studio in Times Square, where hordes of screaming teenagers once gathered with florescent signs and backed by blank-faced parents to witness live editions of the music-video show.
It’ll also have programming specifically for online platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Musical.ly.

“Who’s not going to support a platform that’s covering all of the buckets of social media and cable to allow your artist to go on, play a video, perform a song, and to talk about their new music that just got released?” MTV president Chris McCarthy told the New York Times (paywall). “How do you say no to that?”

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