MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American television network owned by ViacomCBS through the MTV Entertainment Group subsidiary of its Domestic Media Networks division. Launched on August 1, 1981, the channel originally aired music videos and related programming guided by "video jockeys" (VJs), but expanded its programming in the 1990s to include original animation, comedy, drama, and reality television series. In the 2000s, it significantly downplayed its original focus on music in favor of reality programming, although it began to reintroduce old and new music shows to its line-up in 2016.
Sight on Sound
Before MTV's official launch, Warner Cable (under its two-way interactive cable television system QUBE) launched a specialized channel called Sight on Sound in 1977, which would later evolve into MTV. A similar experiment was done on QUBE's channel C-3, which would later become MTV's sister network Nickelodeon in 1979.
MTV: The Music Channel
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May 5, 1980
Before its official launch, MTV was originally known as MTV: The Music Channel. Its initial logo was created by Manhattan Design and finalized on May 5, 1980, but was later scrapped due to the designers' efforts to incorporate the MTV name into the logo being an "unqualified disaster", according to creative director Fred Seibert.
Manhattan Design (Patty Rogoff, Frank Olinsky)
Helvetica Black (modified) Kabel Black
August 1, 1981
MTV was officially launched on August 1, 1981, with a logo designed by Manhattan Design's Patty Rogoff and Frank Olinsky under the creative direction of Fred Seibert (who, along with his partner Alan Goodman, would go on to oversee the rebrands of Nickelodeon, Lifetime, VH1, and The Movie Channel). The block letter "M" was sketched by Rogoff, and the scribbled word "TV" was spraypainted by Olinksky. Unlike most television networks at that time, MTV's logo was constantly branded with different colors, patterns and images on a variety of station IDs.
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May 31, 1994
In 1994, the logo was slightly redrawn, with the "MUSIC TELEVISION" text changed to Helvetica Black.
Since 2008 on the premiere of FNMTV, the network had shown a chopped down version of its logo during most of its on-air programming. This became MTV's main logo on February 8, 2010, when it made its official debut on its website. This logo is essentially a cropped and updated version of the simplified variant, with the "MUSIC TELEVISION" text eliminated, most likely to reflect the network's dramatic decrease in music-related programming (although it started to shift its focus back in 2016).
On February 5, 2021, MTV began using a revised logo in tandem with the 2010 version, tweaking the overall design for improved readability in small-scale usage. The main logo for MTV features the classic blue, red and yellow color palette (commonly used against a black background), while a single-color version is used for specific piece of content, which does away with the 3D effect (much akin to the current VMA variant).
Single color version, used for specific pieces of content.
This logo is being used on most on-air promos for its current programming, as well as the Paramount+ streaming service and the Entertainment Group and Entertainment Studios divisions. It started being used more prevalently and internationally following MTV's 40th anniversary, and became the primary logo online on September 9, 2021. The logo began being used on air on September 12, 2021, during the Video Music Awards.
↑From 1981 to 2010, it was legally registered as MTV: Music Television.