25 Fun Facts You May Not Know About MTV And Its History

Posted by , Updated on June 21, 2024

**MTV started rocking popular culture back in 1984, grabbing the attention of young folks.** It used to be all about music videos, but now MTV’s got everything from game shows to reality TV and award ceremonies like the VMA’s and MTV Movie Awards. **Maybe you jammed out to music videos on MTV, or can’t miss the newest Teen Wolf episodes.** Here are 25 Fascinating Facts About MTV And Its History That Might Be Unknown To You.




Feature Image: vitoraws via http://www.deviantart.com/art/Wallpaper-MTV-64175719


The footage of the original MTV opening sequence was taken from the first launch of the space shuttle Columbia and the Apollo 11 moon mission. This footage was used until early 1986, when it was scrapped following the failed Challenger launch that resulted in the deaths of seven astronauts.

columbiaSource: http://ppcorn.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Space_Shuttle_Columbia_launching.jpg

While music videos have been around since the invention of film, there is no doubting that MTV helped to mold the medium into what we know today. MTV made music videos accessible and popular to a mainstream demographic, ensuring their place in our 21st century media.

25 Things You Should Know About MTVSource: http://theweek.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giulietta_Pixelated_music_video_3.jpg

Everybody loves to talk about the VMA's; however, over the years MTV has been quite successful with their Movie Awards as well. With winners being awarded a "golden popcorn," the most successful contender has been Jim Carrey, who has received 10 awards to date and always manages to make a show in his appearances.

jimcarreySource: http://www.mtv.com/ Image: Insomnia Cured Here via https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/2079118961

One of the most successful music videos featured at the VMA's has been Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer; this stop-motion pioneering video took home a record-breaking nine awards, has been called the #1 music video played at the VMA's, and remains the most played music video in the history of MTV.

Peter GabrielSource: http://entertainment.time.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gabriel

MTV reaches over 387 million households across the whole world, and it is the #1 media brand on planet Earth. It is also the most recognizable network among young adults ages 12 to 34, which makes up its primary demographic.

family watching tvSource: http://www.parentstv.org/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_watching_television_1958.jpg

The generation of children growing up in the 1980's and 90's, generally called Generation Y, has often been referred to as the MTV Generation due to the profound and lasting effect of the television network.

child in front of tvSource: http://ppcorn.com/ Image: https://pixabay.com/en/children-tv-child-television-home-403582/

Originally, MTV's station tag was going to be Neil Armstrong's famous, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" quote; however, problems obtaining the rights to the quote arose, and they ended up scrapping the plan in favor of the popular slogan, "Ladies and gentleman, rock and roll!"

armstrongSource: http://www.highsnobiety.com/ Image: David Erickson via https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-strategycom/1054180042

The music score backing the original opening for MTV was written by Jonathan Elias, the same man who composed the Columbia Pictures logo theme and the infamous Yahoo yodel.

jonathaneliasSource: http://www.mtv.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Elias

The MTV-produced 2004 Super Bowl halftime show was one that would go down in infamy. At the end of  Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson's performance of Rock Your Body, a "wardrobe malfunction" briefly exposed Jackson's right breast on live television. The event created a national craze and even resulted in CBS being sued for $550,000 by the FCC.

superbowl performanceSource: http://www.rollingstone.com/ Image: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbreakable_(Janet_Jackson)

People who grew up in the 90's love to complain about how MTV doesn't deserve its name, seeing as it barely, if ever, plays music. However, the M in MTV doesn't actually stand for music at all. Although it started as an initialism for music television, the program officially dropped the full title in 2010.

MTV logoSource: http://articles.latimes.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MTV-Logo.svg

If you watched MTV for the music videos, you may enjoy our list on 25 Most Expensive Music Videos In History.


From Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus attacking each other in the press to Kid Rock knocking Tommy Lee's hat off and starting a fist fight, and even Eminem beating up Triumph the insult-comic dog puppet and threatening Moby, emotions have always run high at the VMA's, whether that's for better or worse.

minajSource: http://www.rollingstone.com/ Image: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Nicki_Minaj_2015_MTV_Video_Music_Awards.jpg

MTV tried to reboot a couple of its shows in 2011 including Beavis and Butt-Head, 120 Minutes, and Headbangers Ball. Although none of them caught on with the younger audience, some of the rebooted shows can still be found online.

bevis & buttheadSource: http://ppcorn.com/ Image: methodshop .com via https://www.flickr.com/photos/methodshop/6125571300

Airing from 1987 to 1990, the retro pop-trivia game show Remote Control became the first non-music related show to be featured on the MTV network.

mtvremotecontrolSource: http://www.mtv.com/ Image: Eric Steuer via https://www.flickr.com/photos/notthe1s/6379942767

When it first aired, MTV dedicated 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to sharing music videos guided by on-screen personalities known as video jockeys. This continued for a little over three years, before the network changed to a new format in 1984.

mtv247Source: http://www.vh1.com/ Image: https://pixabay.com/en/calendar-date-time-month-week-660670/

MTV had a hand in jump starting the careers of many actors and celebrities. Specifically, many comedians such as Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Kathy Griffin, and Aziz Ansari all got their first gigs on MTV.

comediansSource: http://ppcorn.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human-giant.jpg

Many people believe Michael Jackson was the first African American to appear on MTV in 1983, but the interracial ska band The Specials received some air time during the very first day.

25 Things You Should Know About MTVSource: http://www.usatoday.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Specials_crop.jpg

MTV has butted heads with the Parent's Music Resource Center (PMRC) on multiple occasions. Surprisingly, what offended the parents most often weren't explicit lyrics or sexual situations. In fact, it was the possibility of Devil Worship in songs such as Megalomaniac by Incubus, Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden, and Closer by Nine Inch Nails that worried them the most.

pmrcSource: http://www.newsweek.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_Advisory

Written by four of the five original MTV video jockeys, VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave is a book that reveals a firsthand experience of what it was like to be a VJ at the start of MTV. It also describes the VJ's off-camera fun, as well as their thoughts regarding the direction of modern MTV.

mtv-vjsSource: http://www.usatoday.com/ Image: https://medium.com/@j.violet/the-things-i-do-to-appease-my-inner-child-fcdc5d062257#.9iaz4qr2o

Keeping with the space theme associated with MTV and giving a callback to the original 1981 opening sequence, the Moonman was selected to be the identity and award trophy of the VMA's. The Moonman has received two redesigns since its conception, first in 2013 by New York artist KAWS and second in 2015 by popular fashion designer Jeremy Scott.

moonmanSource: http://www.mtv.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MTV_VMA_Moonman.jpg

When it first launched, MTV was only broadcasted into a few thousand houses in northern New Jersey. Although it has always been based out of New York, it didn't air there until a few years later when the producers were sure it would be a hit.

mtvstartSource: http://ppcorn.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Request_Live

The longest running live show on MTV was the popular music video countdown TRL, or Total Request Live, which first aired in 1997 and remained on the air until November of 2008. The show was brought back for one day in 2014, hosted by Sway Calloway and featured Ariana Grande.

total request liveSource: http://www.tv.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Request_Live

Despite having large and extravagant 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations, MTV did not plan anything remotely special for its 30th birthday in 2011. Because the program had gone in such a different direction from its musical beginnings, the producers could not justify interrupting the schedule.

mtvanniversarySource: http://www.rollingstone.com/ Image: Sun International South Africa via https://www.flickr.com/photos/suninternational/5025497874

In 1993, about the time the internet was first gaining in popularity, MTV video jockey Adam Curry received permission to use the domain mtv.com for his personal website. One year later, however, after Curry retired from MTV, the company sued him over the use of the name. The argument was eventually settled outside of court.

mtvwebsiteSource: http://www.nndb.com/ Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTPS

As much as we might want to forget it, Jersey Shore remains the most watched show on MTV. It also holds the record for highest number of viewers on an MTV channel with the third season episode "Free Snooki," which garnered nearly 8.9 million viewers in the United States.

jerseyshoreSource: http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/ Image: New York Television Festival via https://www.flickr.com/photos/nytvf/8167145852

At 12:01 AM on August 1st, 1981, the song Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles became, fittingly, the first music video to play on MTV's premiere channel. The publicity also helped the band go mainstream in the United States, which it had previously failed at doing.

mtvradiostarSource: http://www.businessinsider.com/ Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trevor_Horn.jpg