MTV was Broadcasted for the first time on August 1, 1981, MTV started out as a 24-hour music channel. Its very first broadcast has been remastered and can now be viewed online here.
The remastered MTV video starts with the launch of Apollo and we’re listening to the countdown. Neil Armstrong lands on the moon and a voice-over says: “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll.” Rock music starts playing and a colourful flashing MTV flag is placed on the moon. The logo continues rapidly changing colours and remains on screen for a good twenty seconds. It’s hard to ignore; we are watching MTV.
The very first song that is broadcasted is “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles and is accompanied by its music video, which on theme starts with a moon in the sky. The rest of the broadcast features different artists and songs with commentary in between clips.
MTV initially struggled in its early years as music video clips were still relatively sparse, which resulted in frequent repetition of clips. But once the channel started featuring rhythm and blues artists its popularity grew. MTV started proving that it could boost an artist’s careers by broadcasting them, which helped singles like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.
From Music to Youth-Oriented Pop Culture
In 1985, a shift in content took place when Viacom Inc. purchased MTV Networks, the parent company of MTV. Music started being sorted by genre and was broadcast at specific times. Soon after, game shot, reality shows, animated cartoons and soap operas became an integral part of MTV. The focus changed from music to youth-oriented pop culture, which rings closer to the channel we have come to known today.
Check out this page for a more comprehensive rundown of MTV’s history and for more MTV, have a look at its reboot of a Celebrity Deathmatch here!