MTV vs. VH1

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Difference between MTV and VH1

When it comes to cable music channels, the two that are most familiar are MTV and VH1. Unarguably one of the proponents of the modern music video form as we know it, MTV was closely followed by VH1, which catered to a slightly different demographic. How else do the two differ? Let's take a look!

Profile

MTV is based in New York City, and it began airing (namely “Video Killed the Radio Star”) in August of 1981. Right at the start, the entire premise of the channel was to present music videos and have them be introduced by what later became widely known as television VJs.

VH1 is also based in New York City, and it started operations in January 1985. As an interesting side note, VH1 first aired from a previous studio of the Cable Music Channel, which had a limited run. VH1 was founded and is run by a subsidiary of MTV.

Cultural Impact/Market

During the early years of MTV and on to its middle period, it was quite a formidable cultural force, and it was widely recognized and referenced throughout popular culture. Numerous slogans that the channel introduced went on to become familiar catchphrases, and their contribution to music, video and cinema cannot be denied.

VH1 for its part was originally intended to expand on the success of MTV with a selection that leaned more toward the tastes of an older demographic. As a result, VH1 focused more on lighter popular music, compared to MTV, which occasionally delved into the louder and more youth oriented forms.

De-Emphasis On Videos

Over the years, both MTV and VH1 have ramped down the number of music videos that they air, opting instead to focus more on reality TV shows, special event shows and scripted programs. For MTV, the trend for fewer music videos began in the early years of the 2000s. Previously, music videos were shown for up to eight hours a day. By the 2000s, MTV had cut this down to a mere three hours per day.

VH1 has followed suit, by playing music videos only in the early morning hours. Nevertheless, VH1 still plays considerably more music videos than MTV does, with up to seven hours per day devoted to the form. In both cases, it is though that the easy availability of music videos on the Internet may have contributed to the decrease in their airing.

Similarities and Differences

MTV

  • First started airing in August 1981
  • Premise of the channel was to present music videos and have them be introduced by VJs
  • Was widely recognized and referenced throughout popular culture
  • Have ramped down the number of music videos that they air

VH1

  • Started operations in January 1985
  • First started airing from the previous studio of the Cable Music Channel
  • Was founded and is run by a subsidiary of MTV
  • Have ramped down the number of music videos that they air

Which cable station played better videos in the 80s?
  • MTV
  • VH1
 
 

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • Indie C. wrote on February 2017

Great article! Cleared up my confusion

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