On Aug 1, 1981, MTV made its debut at one minute past midnight and represented the first music cable channel in the United States. Crank up the music through these trivia questions about the video channel you loved to dance to...
What Space Launch Did MTV Feature at the Beginning of the Show?
It opened with footage of the Apollo 11 and the space shuttle
Columbia, then went to an astronaut placing a flag on the moon that
featured the MTV logo. The footage was shown at the beginning of each
hour for five years until 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger
exploded in midair, killing seven astronauts. Originally, MTV wanted to
use Neil Armstrong’s famous quote, “That's one small step for man, one
giant leap for mankind." He refused to give permission, so “Ladies and
gentlemen, rock and roll” was selected instead.
When deciding what to use as a figurehead for the VMA trophy, the three options considered included a moonman, a sneaker and a carton of popcorn. The Moonman was chosen as the statue for the VMA trophy and the popcorn as the statue for the MTV Movie Award.
What Was the First Music Video Aired on MTV? The first video, which was shown at 12:01 a.m. on the channel, was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Other musicians whose videos were featured on the first day of the channel were Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, The Who and Phil Collins. However, MTV wasn’t shown nationwide at first. It was originally available to a limited number of viewers in New Jersey. In the early days, video jockeys who worked for different music companies worked for MTV at no cost and introduced the songs.
Was MTV an Immediate Success?
Far from it. Cable operators had to be convinced to carry it as one
of their channels. Since they generally had about 50 channels to choose
from but could only carry 25, they were more inclined to add another
channel for sports instead of a channel dedicated to showing rock and
roll videos. At least one cable operator objected because he thought it
would corrupt his children.
Record companies weren’t much more inviting than the cable companies. While they liked the idea, they realized they would have to invest money into making the music videos that would be played on air. This kept some record companies from investing much money in the project. However, in areas where MTV was broadcast, records began selling that were not being played by local radio stations. Record companies, facing pressure from their recording artists and increased record sales due to videos featured on MTV, finally caved in and started producing music videos featuring their own performers.
Ted Turner Launched a Music Channel to Compete with MTV. How Long Did It Last?
You know Ted Turner, right? One of the most successful forces in television ever, Turner decided there was no reason for MTV to have a monopoly on music television. So he launched the Cable Music Channel (he's so good at naming networks) which would one up MTV. In fact, the first words spoken on that channel were Turner himself saying "Take that, MTV!" CMC wouldn't just play rock music, they'd play all music. But of course, rock music was what made MTV so darn cool. Turner's new channel lasted all of one month before being sold to, that's right, MTV. But the network didn't die. It has since become VH1.