MTV stands for “Music Television,” however the presence of actual music on the channel is severely lacking, and it has been for quite some time. In fact, the channel’s current on air schedule for the next 24 hours includes absolutely no music: performances, videos or otherwise. When a channel that boasts the word “music” in its title is not playing music it follows that music enthusiasts are left to wonder what it is actually airing. The Hills, Happy Gilmore, Catfish and Elf are just a few of the selections set to air from 6 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8, to 6 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. These show, though they draw ratings and tend to be favorites among the current target demographic, are not music nor are they necessarily musically oriented. Based on their schedule alone, the channel is quite clearly lacking in the broadcasting of actual music.
When MTV took to the airwaves for the first time on Aug. 1, 1981 it revolutionized television. Viewers could now not only hear their favorite songs, but they could also see the rock and pop stars they loved so much. Their line-up, however, was a far cry from what it is today. According to History.com, MTV’s early programming schedule consisted simply of music videos that were introduced by hosts or VJs (video jockeys) and accessible to the network for free from record companies. Upon its inception Music Television was genuinely a television channel dedicated to the airing and sharing of music and music videos. Initially, and for many years after, the network found that the idea of music combined with television was pop-culture and ratings gold.
Like all good brands, MTV as a corporation has strived to stay ahead of the curve and appreciate their audience and all their interests, music and beyond. Though their television shows have diverged from music, they are still on top of their game. As recently as 2003 the channel still retained the loyalty of certain demographics responsible for a massive amount of consumerism in America and the world over. Parents TV.org describes the incomparable influence the channel as well as its affiliated channels have had on pop-culture for several decades now: “Young adults 12-34 name MTV as the most recognized network. Music Television is the best way to connect with 12-34 s who are 91 million strong and growing, and represent 33 percent of the U.S. population.” They go on to say that this demographic also represents about $250 billion in spending power which is likely to reach $350 billion by the 2010’s. Clearly network officials have zeroed in on where their success lies and whether or not that includes actual music seems to be irrelevant. For a music channel that is lacking in the broadcast of actual music, the network appears to be doing just fine.
Music and their videos need not worry too much. While the musical television organization seems to be lacking in actual music, there are numerous other channels associated with the brand that are playing nothing but music videos. In fact there are several alternative channels that are keeping their musical legacy intact. Of all the channels under the networks umbrella there are amost half that focus solely on music, although to access them an extensive cable package is necessary. MTV: 2, Jams and Hits are just three of the network’s substitute options viewers can tune into if they are looking for a music video fix. Whatever formula they have currently adopted, fans and critics alike can hardly argue with the success the numbers indicate. In fact with the Video Music Awards (VMA’s), set to air on the original network as well as its over 60 world-wide affiliates, reaching over a half a billion households, in just two weeks, ratings are expected to draw comparable numbers to their most successful shows to date. Music or not, the network giant continues to maintain its status as a ratings monster and pop-culture phenomenon.
Opinion By Heather Everett (Pomper)