Despite the fact that MADtv ran for 14 seasons it was an epic failure. The show never caught on with its intended demographic, had poor ad response and was a marketing bomb. Warner Bros. Television Distribution could not find a network that would run the show on a long-term basis. Finally it bombed when it was released to DVD.
Yes, I think that MAD tv was a sort of failure, because it never took off and became as popular as they thought that it would. Other big channels continued to dominate tv, and their channel was doomed from the start, since their shows were not all that good of ideas.
I do think that MADtv was a failure. I grew up reading Mad Magazine and it was so much better. This show was a very poor attempt at emulating a very funny magazine. Mad Magazine is classic and probably won't make a good TV show no matter how funny the actors are.
If you measure MadTV against it's closest rival, Saturday Night Live, then you can certainly consider it a failure. However, Saturday Night Live is a unique cultural phenomenon. It has lasted decades, and no other sketch comedy show can really compare. There really is only one way to answer this. Was MadTV funny, and did it attract viewers. The answer to both parts is "Yes."
No, I do not think MADtv was a failure. It ran for a really long time and was watched by a lot of people. During the peak of it's popularity almost everybody I knew was watching it every single week. I thought it was a success for sure and I don't know why anyone would think otherwise.