|Launched||August 1, 1996|
|Owned by||Viacom Media Networks (Viacom)|
480i (SDTV/16:9 letterbox)
|Broadcast area||Nationwide (available in most areas)|
|Formerly called||M2 (1996–1999)|
|Dish Network||161 (SD only)|
|C-Band||AMC 18-Channel 231 (H2H 4DTV)|
|Available on many U.S. cable providers||Check local listings for channel numbers|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
|Part of a series on|
in the United States
|Programs on MTV|
|Censorship on MTV|
|Viacom Media Networks|
MTV2 (formerly M2) is an American digital cable and satellite television channel owned by Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom. The channel was initially broadcast over-the-air in selected markets, where the former all-request music channel known as The Box was broadcast. The channel was originally launched as a constant commercial-free music video channel, much like the original MTV channel; but once MTV started to change its focus from music to reality television in the 2000s, MTV2's focus changed as well, thus bringing music video programming away from both MTV and MTV2. Today, MTV2 broadcasts unscripted programming and syndicated television episodes from MTV and other networks.
The beginning: M2
MTV2 began broadcasting as simply M2 on August 1, 1996 – MTV's 15th anniversary – with Beck's "Where It's At" being the first video to air. M2 was created ostensibly to answer critics and viewers who complained MTV didn't show music videos anymore; in reality, M2 was part of MTV Networks' strategy to expand its brand in anticipation of the coming shift to digital cable, which would exponentially increase the number of available channels on the cable spectrum. Based on MTV Network's internal research, viewers' pent-up demand for additional music video viewing options—a demand that M2 was designed to meet—fed expectations within the company that the new channel's success would be inevitable and immediate.
Upon M2's launch, the new 24-hour music video network proved to be as popular with viewers as MTV hoped. However, as digital cable technology was slow to expand into major cities, cable companies refused to add yet another music channel to their limited, pre-digital channel lineup, arguing that with MTV, VH1, CMT, Fuse and other niche music video options, the audience for 'music on TV' was being sufficiently serviced. Even the fact that M2 generated huge ratings whenever it was tested—by the cable companies themselves—in free previews around the country wasn't enough to convince the cable gatekeepers to add M2 to their lineup. As a result, in its first couple of years on the air, M2 was restricted to satellite television plus the few, small markets where digital cable was then available, limiting its audience reach to around 12 million homes by 2000. M2 also broadcast live over the internet during its early years, which meant it was similarly ahead of its time in a period when few people had broadband internet connections. Due in part to the unexpectedly slow roll-out of the fledgling channel, MTV Networks decided to rebrand M2 in the first quarter of 1999, changing the name to MTV2 in the hopes the new image would signal a new start. As digital cable expanded nationwide, MTV2 continued its own inexorable growth.
Original VJs and shows
During M2's first year, music videos were programmed to run on a 24-hour basis without repeating, leading to ecstatic reports of marathon viewing sessions at college campuses across the country. However, once it became clear M2's market growth was being thwarted by the major cable companies' obstinance, the network was forced to take difficult but necessary cost-cutting measures. The most obvious change—and the most upsetting to viewers—was the decision to end M2's popular 24-hour "no repeat" policy. In its place, daily programming was curtailed to an 8-hour block that was then repeated three times a day: from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and finally from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., after which a new 8-hour block of programming would start the cycle again. Predictably, this new format was as disappointing and frustrating to M2 fans as it was to the network itself.
At its launch, M2 had three VJs: Jancee Dunn, Matt Pinfield and Kris Kosach, each of whom appeared on-screen 3-5 times per hour over the course of their individual 4-6 hour host segments. To many long-time MTV viewers, Pinfield was well known for hosting the seminal MTV show 120 Minutes, while Kosach and Dunn were new to MTV Networks. Dunn, in particular, while a respected writer/editor at Rolling Stone magazine, was so new to television that she was visibly, almost painfully uncomfortable in front of the camera; however, her natural shyness and awkward (though often funny) delivery—which conveyed her very real disbelief that she was actually on television—endeared her to viewers. Pinfield eventually left to host other shows on MTV, while Kosach moved on to TechTV; Dunn, ever popular, remained at the channel through 2001.
In the beginning, M2's programmers were given full, unrestricted access to MTV's entire video library, as well as exclusive "first use" of videos from new bands, and were told to treat M2 like an independent or college radio station. This unprecedented mandate gave programmers the freedom to showcase obscure and/or emerging artists, as well as the chance to air seldom- or never-seen older videos languishing in the vaults. Much thought and effort went into how videos were programmed, very often with specific, though not always obvious themes that explored connections between musicians/bands, genres of music, years/eras, song titles, etc.; or connections between the videos themselves, e.g. the director (such as Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze), common themes, visual effects, etc. Programming blocks were sometimes filled with a band or singer's entire video collection shown in chronological order (such as Smashing Pumpkins Videography), and M2 would often invite musicians to hand-pick blocks of their favorite videos, then appear on air as a "guest VJ" to introduce and explain their choices (which would eventually be known as Artist Collections).
M2's early programmers were quick to take creative advantage of the MTV parent company's hands-off approach, resulting in playful or ironic programming decisions that underscored the upstart channel's early free-wheeling, subversive attitude and proudly "bratty" self-image; for example, on January 1, 1999, M2 played the music video "1999" by Prince for 24 hours straight. Due to its programmers' acumen, M2 quickly gained favor with music insiders, and as its popularity and reputation grew within the music industry, it became common for musicians and record labels to request that their new videos premiere exclusively on M2 rather than MTV. In addition, record companies often asked to have new artists appear on the channel in taped segments with the VJs because M2 viewers were considered tastemakers and early-adopters. Even an act as huge (and seemingly incongruous with M2) as the Spice Girls made their first American TV appearance on M2, as did their video for "Wannabe," which was a number-one hit worldwide. At the time of their appearance on M2, the Spice Girls were already a huge hit in the UK (and thus were expected to be in the United States), but they were relatively unknown to U.S. audiences, so the hope was that being seen first on M2 would give the group an ironic edge that might help expand their appeal beyond the obvious bubble-gum set (in addition, Pinfeild was a fan of them).
A–Z video marathon
Starting on January 1, 2000, in honor of the millennium, MTV2 attempted to play every music video in the MTV library in alphabetical order. While a majority of videos were played, many were skipped over. The special ended in mid-April 2000.
MTV2's first relaunch
In 1997, Viacom, MTV and MTV2's parent company, bought out the independent, viewer-requested "jukebox" music video channel known as The Box. Starting on January 1, 2001, all households that had received The Box began to receive MTV2 in its place, putting the channel into millions of additional households. MTV2 also began adding television commercials to its broadcasts; beforehand, cable or satellite providers interrupted MTV2's feed to insert their own ads. MTV2 also began to separate the types of videos it played by genre. Hip-hop and soul music (hosted by a new VJ, Steph Lova) was played for one hour every weekday at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Rock music played every weekday at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (hosted by another new VJ: former K-Rock and then-WXRK radio DJ Chris Booker).
A new show hosted by Jancee Dunn called MTV2 Request aired every weekday between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. and again between 11 p.m. and midnight. All of the videos played on MTV2 Request were selected by online viewer requests. Another new show called Control Freak began in 2001, airing weekdays from 8 to 9 p.m. It used real-time viewer voting to select the next video to be played on the channel (out of three choices), while the current video was playing. The majority of the daytime schedule still featured a somewhat diverse mix of rap, rock, and pop, and new and old videos. By 2003, the network had 50 million subscribers in the United States.
Next set of VJs and shows
In late 2001, MTV2 held auditions for new VJs. Steph Lova, Jancee Dunn, Chris Booker and Dave Holmes all disappeared. They were replaced with Jim Shearer (who would go on to become the main VJ in the heavily genre-segregated MTV2), Abby Gennet (who began to host MTV2 Rock, which was now being played between 3 and 5 p.m. every weekday afternoon), Quddus (a regular MTV VJ, who would host MTV2 Soul, which would air between 9 and 11 a.m. every weekday), and La La Vasquez and DJ Clue (both of whom would host MTV2 Hip Hop, which was played between 10 p.m. and midnight every weeknight).
During the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve of 2001, MTV2 claimed to play every video that had debuted on the channel during the entire year of 2001, Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day, alphabetically by video title. As had happened with the marathon of all music videos in 2000, several videos were skipped over as a result of unfortunate scheduling and an overemphasis on fitting in commercials.
With the start of 2002, MTV2's block of techno and dance music, AMP, which had aired Sunday nights between 10 p.m. and midnight, was replaced by a show called MTV2 Dance. This became a three-hour block of dance and techno, which featured some more obscure music by little-known techno DJs, but also incorporated the videos for mainstream, popular dance songs, by artists such as Amber and Kylie Minogue. The show also was known for playing dance remixes of pop videos, such as the Hex Hector Remix of Jennifer Lopez' "Waiting For Tonight," the Metro Remix of Enrique Iglesias' "Hero," and the Thunderpuss Remix of Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right, But It's OK." MTV2 Dance originally aired every Sunday morning between 1 and 4 a.m.
Around this time, 120 Minutes, was moved to Sunday nights between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Jim Shearer also took over hosting duty from Kevin Dunn.
In the spring of 2002, MTV2 altered its format once again. New shows such as Chart2Chart (hosted by Jim Shearer), which aired the most popular videos from the pop, rap, rock, and dance, singles and albums charts, debuted. Spankin' New was a show that featured the newest videos of the week, and Extreme Rock began to air late nights on weekdays, showcasing hard rock and metal music, such as Godsmack, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Guns N' Roses. Riffs & Rhymes appeared on the daily weekday schedule between 5 and 6 p.m., and it featured videos and bands that combined the sounds of rock and rap music, such as The Roots, Linkin Park, P.O.D., and Limp Bizkit. Chris Booker, after only a brief absence from the channel, was brought back in order to host the show. Riffs & Rhymes only lasted until the summer of 2002, but Extreme Rock, Spankin' New and Chart2Chart remained through the end of 2003.
In April 2002, MTV2 created a special program, MTV's Most Controversial Videos, to complement an MTV News documentary on the subject. The two-hour documentary on MTV was hosted by MTV News reporters Iann Robinson and SuChin Pak. MTV2 aired the top 20 videos in full, many of which were previously banned from MTV, in a three-hour late-night special hosted by Andrew W.K.. In addition to playing the top 20 videos that were discussed on MTV's special, which included The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up", Pearl Jam's "Jeremy", Eminem's "Stan"," Nine Inch Nails' "Closer", and Madonna's "Justify My Love", MTV2 played Björk's "Pagan Poetry", Metallica's "Turn the Page", Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy", The Cardigans' "My Favourite Game," and U.N.K.L.E.'s "Rabbit In Your Headlights" as bonus controversial videos.
During the Memorial Day weekend of 2002, MTV2 played a special called Increase The Beat. DJ Paul Oakenfold hosted the special and played videos from such artists as Fatboy Slim, Beastie Boys, and Jay-Z. The videos were arranged in order from slowest to fastest, based on the number of beats per minute of the song.
MTV2's next major special programming came during the Fourth of July weekend in 2002. For the entire four-day extended holiday weekend, MTV2 aired a special called Box Set Weekend. The channel played an artist's Artist Collection (by this time, there were around 100 episodes of Artist Collection), and then followed it by other MTV programming that featured the artist, such as Making The Video, Ultrasound, and/or a live performance, depending on what was available in the MTV archives. Although it was not the first time that MTV2 played programming other than music videos, Box Set Weekend then had the highest concentration of non-video programming on the channel.
Prior to that weekend, non-video programming and specials were few and far between, and were never longer than 30 minutes at a time. Box Set Weekend began the trend for MTV2 to play fewer music videos and more archived MTV specials, which may have annoyed and alienated some of MTV2's original viewers, who had initially tuned in just to see the videos, without having to sit through documentaries and interviews which could already be seen on MTV and VH1. However, it was said that MTV2's ratings increased as a result of their incorporation of documentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes specials along with music videos.
On August 24, 2002, MTV2 aired an 18-hour-long special called VMA Winners, which aired the most memorable winning videos from the entire history of MTV's Video Music Awards, in anticipation of the award show on August 29, 2002. Each hour was dedicated to a certain year of the awards, beginning at 6 a.m. ET with 1984 and ending at the 11 p.m. ET hour with 2001. Approximately nine videos were shown per hour from each year. MTV2 VJs Jim Shearer and Abby Gennet hosted the special, contributing three segments per hour. Either Shearer or Gennet hosted the first two segments per hour, then they joined each other for the third segment, in order to switch off hosting duties for the next hour. By the end of the special, the music videos for more than 160 past VMA winners were shown. MTV2 aired similar specials in 2003 and 2004, hosted solely by Jim Shearer and incorporating the additional years of VMA winners.
Also in the summer of 2002, MTV2 experimented with MTV2 Dance's timeslot, airing the block twice a week: in its usual Sundays slot between 1 and 4 a.m., but also early Saturdays between midnight and 3 a.m. This only lasted for a couple of weeks, however, and by the fall of 2002, MTV2 Dance was cancelled entirely.
On September 21, 2002, MTV2 aired 24 Hours of Love, a live special hosted by Courtney Love. For the special, Love took control of MTV2's airwaves for 24 hours, playing a selection of videos that she wanted to see, taking calls from viewers, and inviting guests into the studio.
In the fall of 2002, amid complaints that the channel was slowly following the same path that the flagship MTV had taken, away from music videos – especially older and rarer ones – MTV2 debuted a new weekly show called The Definitive. Its purpose was to showcase videos, many of which might not have otherwise still been played on MTV2, in themed blocks. It began airing on Sundays between 10 and 11 p.m., and showcased an hour of videos grouped by a different theme every week. Its first episode played all animated music videos such as "Californication" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and "Do The Evolution" by Pearl Jam. Since then, the show had nearly 50 episodes. Some of the final themes were videos featuring Snoop Dogg, videos featuring motorcycles, and videos by musicians who have famous fathers, in honor of Fathers' Day 2003. The final episode of The Definitive aired on September 14, 2003 showcasing videos that featured rooftops.
Near the end of the year, MTV2 also began to play Retro Videos weekdays between 7 and 8 a.m. This evolved into a show that was later called Back In Play, which also aired between 2 and 3 p.m., and with each of the two hours being a completely different block of older videos that were not currently on MTV or MTV2's playlist. In December 2002, MTV2 once again tried to air every video that debuted on the channel in 2002. As happened in the past, several videos were not actually played.
Major format evolution
Through the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, MTV2 phased out the format of exclusively music videos, instead adopting a new slogan, "Where the music's at," and featuring other music-related shows instead of 24/7 videos. Past MTV Icon specials, news documentaries, and countdowns were all as likely to be shown on MTV2 as videos. However, MTV2 still continued to show innovative and up-and-coming musicians and videos, as well as mainstream videos.
New rock/hip-hop shows
MTV2's 2003 schedule included some changes from 2002. Jesse Snider, son of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider was selected as the host of MTV2 Rock, replacing Abby Gennet. In addition, MTV2 Rock was reduced to one hour per day, and hip-hop related programming was expanded to five hours per day. Much of the daily schedule was occupied by other music-related specials and documentaries, with random-rotation music videos occupying only the late night hours. Other new programming included Track 2, a series going "behind the scenes" of music videos, and Nose Dive, profiling past popular artists.
In April 2003, MTV2 aired Madonna Weekend, a special that commemorated Madonna's new album at the time, American Life. The network showed classic MTV specials and interviews featuring Madonna, as well as a four-hour collection of Madonna videos called Madonna A-Z. The weekend ended on April 20, with the premiere of The Definitive: Madonna. It was the first episode of The Definitive to be two hours in length, and it was completely determined by online viewer voting at MTV2.com. Madonna's controversial "Erotica" video was voted into the number one spot. Although MTV originally banned the video from its airwaves, MTV2 played the video uncensored and in its entirety.
In May 2003, the long-running alternative music show 120 Minutes, which started on MTV in 1986 and moved to MTV2 at the end of 2000, came to an end with a final episode, featuring host Jim Shearer interviewing former hosts Matt Pinfield and Dave Kendall. After the final episode, the series was renamed as Subterranean and given a shorter 60-minute format. The series also moved from Sunday to Friday nights.
Also in May 2003, MTV2 resurrected the old MTV show Headbangers Ball, which featured a wide array of heavy metal and hard rock music videos. Metallica hosted the first episode, followed by Rob Zombie for the next few weeks. Jamey Jasta from the band Hatebreed was then selected as host of the show, though touring responsibilities prevented Jasta from hosting on several occasions. The show was preceded on Saturdays by MTV2 Rock Countdown with Jesse Snider and other rock-related music specials and documentaries.
In June 2003, MTV2 began an eight-hour block of hip-hop programming on Sundays called Sucker Free Sunday. Each week, a different guest host served up Artist Collections, countdowns, and other hip-hop music specials. In July of that year, the channel also introduced a new advertising campaign – aimed at differentiating itself from its parent network, MTV – featuring The Talking Baby, a foul-mouthed baby doll operated by Charlotte-based comedian Sean Keenan.
Around this time, MTV2 sponsored two albums in the MTV2 Album Covers series, in which a band covers another band's songs. The first was Dashboard Confessional/R.E.M., and the second was Guster/Violent Femmes.
During the fall of 2003 and the beginning of 2004, MTV2 once again updated its schedule to include more genre-separated blocks and less variety. The popular show Control Freak, which allowed viewers to vote for the next video they wanted to see, was dropped from its daily two-hour time slot from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and relegated to one half-hour seen only on Tuesday. Other daily shows like Back in Play and Latest & Greatest, which featured a mix of new and old videos, were also cancelled.
As part of this transition, MTV2 Rock was scaled back to a half-hour at 8 p.m., followed by a daily half-hour version of Headbangers Ball. MTV2's daily Hip-Hop Show was expanded further, airing the newest hip-hop hits every day from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the same videos played again from 10 p.m. to midnight. A new show called Greatest Hits replaced Artist Collections, so MTV2 could play only the particular artist's best videos instead of every video that they ever made. The arrival of the new Greatest Hits show meant MTV2's popular The Definitive was cancelled as well. Around this time, MTV2's daytime schedule halted regular music video rotation. As a result, music-related specials and documentaries were scheduled during the daytime hours.
In the spring of 2004, MTV2 ended its contract with Jesse Snider. Jim Shearer remained with the channel and also picked up hosting duties for all rock shows previously hosted by Jesse. Jamey Jasta remained the host of Headbangers Ball. Around this time, MTV2 also welcomed Amanda Diva as its new hip-hop VJ.
End of freeform format
In the summer of 2004, MTV2's daily schedule became almost completely occupied by repeats of MTV's documentaries, reality shows, and even some classics such as Beavis and Butt-head. Only some music video programming remained, including a daily MTV2 Hip-Hop hour at 6 p.m. and an MTV2 Rock hour at 8 p.m.
At this time, MTV2's freeform music video format, which featured a diverse mix of new and old videos from all genres since the channel's beginning, completely ended. Even during MTV2's late night Music Videos rotation (4 a.m. to 7 a.m.), a programmed playlist determined the videos that were to be played. As 2004 came to a close, MTV2 made very little changes to its programming, with non-music shows and documentaries continuing to occupy most of the daily schedule.
MTV2's second relaunch
During the halftime of Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, 2005, both MTV and MTV2 aired a 15-minute preview of MTV2's second relaunch, which took place at midnight on February 7, 2005. The purpose of this relaunch was to create a unique brand identity for MTV2, targeting 12- to 34-year-old male viewers and separating the channel from being perceived as simply an MTV spin-off.
The two-headed dog
The relaunch of the channel also brought the introduction of a completely new logo: a two-headed Rottweiler. The previous boxes logo and MTV's famous block logo were eliminated from the new MTV2 logo, implying that the new channel would be nothing like the current MTV. Billboard Radio Monitor reported that the two heads of the dog were made to represent rock and hip-hop, the two sides of music on MTV2.
Also as part of the relaunch, MTV2 added "sharts" (nonsensical video clips from old B-movies, as well as short clips collected from the internet and others created in-house) between normal video rotation, commercial breaks, and at the top of each hour. These clips began to serve as network IDs for the new MTV2 and were most likely intended to present a random, "anything goes" attitude for the channel. Although Viacom, MTV2's parent company, denied any influence from competing music video channel Fuse, the attitude and identity associated with Fuse most likely played a part in the decision to relaunch MTV2 and add these random clips. Sharts mostly played before Sic' Em Fridays during the show before it.
All original shows that were made after the relaunch were given new opening themes with "sharts" as well. Throughout each opening sequence, pieces of broken bars appear all around the screen and eventually, at the end of the random video clip, form into a bar in the center that reads the name of the show.
The channel also introduced a new way to credit videos. At the beginning and end of each video, three large, brightly colored bars (either blue, yellow or pink) would appear in the middle of the screen which display the video's information, rather than the traditional MTV style of small white letters in the lower left corner. Also during each show, MTV2's two-headed dog logo would change colors, and a large bar would appear in the middle of the screen to inform the viewer of what program is being shown. During regular music video rotation, random comments such as "Stop thinking about your hair", "Never fear them", and "Envy is admiration turned upside down" would appear. The new video credits and show information bars were met with mixed reviews from viewers.
MTV2's VJs remained the same after the relaunch, and there were only a few programming changes. Each day's schedule remained mostly full of music documentary shows and other non-music shows. The daily MTV2 Rock hour at 8 p.m. was eliminated, replaced with additional hip-hop shows. Each of MTV2's regular music shows also received new opening themes and transitions. Another programming change was the return of MTV2 Premiere, which aired a brand new music video at the top of every hour on Thursdays in 2001 and 2002. The new MTV2 Premiere was named Unleashed and began airing on Tuesdays.
Some new non-music video shows were also added to the schedule. On March 11, 2005, MTV2 premiered a block of shows called Sic 'Em Friday, at the time featuring Wildboyz, which was previously aired on MTV but moved to MTV2, as well as brand new series Team Sanchez, Stankervision and Wonder Showzen, and repeats of The Andy Milonakis Show that originally aired on MTV during its first season.
On June 11 and 12, 2005, MTV2 aired 24 Hours of Foo, a live special hosted by the rock band Foo Fighters, which was very similar in concept to 24 Hours of Love, a live special hosted by Courtney Love that the channel aired in 2002.
In February 2008, during Black History Month, MTV2 eliminated almost all non-black music and reality programming. In fact, MTV2, regardless of programming, changed the color of the two-headed dog logo to black throughout the entire month.
Previous trends continue
As 2006 began, most of MTV2's programming continued moving with the general trend that had already started years earlier. Despite the removal of MTV's famous block logo from MTV2's logo in 2005, the channel increased its ties to MTV, airing a broader selection of repeats of other MTV shows that fit in with the "outrageous" theme, as well as some others with no certain theme.
The channel's focus on non-music video programming continued, with most promotion centered around its Sic 'Em Friday block of "outrageous" shows, consisting of Wildboyz and Team Sanchez in a season beginning January 6, 2006, as well as The Andy Milonakis Show and Wonder Showzen in a season beginning March 31, 2006. On June 10, 2006, the network premiered a related block of animated shows called Sic'emation, featuring new episodes of Celebrity Deathmatch, two new animated series (Where My Dogs At? and The Adventures of Chico and Guapo), as well as repeats of the classic MTV series Beavis and Butt-head.
While music was still played on MTV2, the other programming on the network was given more airtime and promotion. In order to find music video programming to watch, viewers must know the schedule and check weekly listings. MTV2 does not promote most of its music video shows, and it does not directly inform viewers about the times in which music videos will be aired.
The music video programming that still aired on MTV2 remained stagnant in 2006. Each weekday, hour-long video countdowns of hits (Elite 8), hip-hop (Sucker Free), and rock (You Rock the Deuce, formerly known as T-Minus Rock) aired primarily during the early morning hours, aside from (Sucker Free) which aired during primetime hours. The Unleashed video premiere was moved to Mondays. At the end of each week, an hour-long rock countdown and a two-hour hip-hop countdown were aired, along with Sucker Free, Headbangers Ball and Subterranean, which have remained in the same time slots since their debuts in 2003. The weekend rock countdown later evolved into Saturday Rock the Deuce, during which MTV2 plays seven or eight of the same videos from one week to the next, but was later moved to late Saturday nights.
Prior to 2011
Without a flagship show or any specific direction, MTV2 remained a mixture of music-related programming and non-music programming aimed at the 12-34-year-old male and female audience. MTV2 stalled most of its original programming, instead choosing to play repeated programs from MTV and other channels for most of its broadcast schedule. Music video programming on the channel is limited, as it is with MTV, likely thanks to the immediacy and convenience of watching music videos on the internet. Notable music-related programming changes on MTV2 and exceptions to the rule are listed as follows.
Music programming on MTV2 took a hit in February 2007 when the network fired all of its production staff. The production staff operated the MTV2 studio and all segments with VJs and/or interviews with artists. As a result of the firings, all of MTV2's music programming, including Sucker Free, Headbangers Ball and Subterranean, were transitioned to a simple block of music videos, no longer featuring any VJ segments.
Later in 2007, MTV2 devoted Saturday evenings to rock music. The network introduced a Rock Block – which is now known as "Saturday Rocks The Deuce" – that was shown Saturdays at 10:00 p.m., featuring hard rock and past grunge bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Silverchair and Pearl Jam, similar to a Mainstream rock radio station. Following Saturday Rocks The Deuce was Headbangers Ball. Initially, such blocks of programming were shown during the primetime hours on Saturdays, but currently the block is shown on late Saturday evenings starting at 10:00 p.m. However, MTV2 viewers residing on the West Coast and receiving the channel through satellite will see this block during the primetime hours, as satellite providers will most likely carry the MTV2 feed from the Eastern Time Zone, in which MTV2 bases its scheduled times for its programming.
The network also continued to air blocks of videos known simply as AMTV, featuring a pre-determined playlist of predominantly current videos with occasional MTV News segments, during the overnight and early morning hours, usually between 3:00 and 8:00 a.m. ET. Other formats in which MTV2 played music videos included a 30-minute block of videos simply titled Music Videos that aired some early mornings and late nights, as well as the No Break Video Hour, a music video block that excluded commercials, as its title infers, Tuesdays through Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.
MTV2 gave the cast of Human Giant free rein of the channel in May 2007 for an event called Human Giant: 24, allowing them to program the channel and host from MTV's Times Square studios as they see fit for 24 hours, from 12 p.m. on May 18 to 12 p.m. on May 19. Notable guests included Fred Armisen and Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Showalter, Todd Barry, Zach Galifianakis, Tapes 'n Tapes, and Tegan and Sara. The live event was the successor to 24 Hours of Love in 2002, 24 Hours of Foo in 2005, and a subsequent Jackass special on MTV in early 2008. Since then, there have been no other large-scale live broadcasts on MTV2.
Music programming was briefly expanded in June 2007, and music videos were seen through much of the day throughout the week. In fact, from 4:30 p.m. on June 29 to 1:00 a.m. on July 1, 2007, MTV2 played strictly music videos, whether a general block of videos or a specific genre-based block such as Headbangers Ball (heavy metal) or Sucker Free (hip-hop), for 33 hours and 30 minutes. Throughout the month of July 2007, MTV2 broadcast music video programs during primetime Mondays through Thursdays in its efforts to play more music. In February 2008, MTV2 replaced the 10 p.m. Eastern rebroadcast of Elite 8 with a standard block of music videos.
2008 saw decreased availability for MTV2, as both Comcast and Cox Communications moved the channel from their widely received analog cable services to digital cable. This, however, was part of a larger initiative by the cable companies to move all of their non-must-carry channels from analog cable to digital by 2010.
During the latter days of June 2008, MTV2 had a "mini-relaunch" of sorts. The MTV2 dog logo now remains a constant color on weekdays (black on gold/yellow), turning black and white on Saturdays, a light and dark blue on Sundays, and the occasional nationality flag when an episode of Wildboyz aired. In addition, all music videos are credited in a consistent format of text. Status messages have been moved from the middle of the screen to a quote box coming from the left dog's mouth. Also, the "sharts" that introduced the beginning of a show were replaced with a more formal display, as it had been with tour dates. The channel also began showing more music videos during the late nights and early morning hours.
On June 2, 2009, MTV2 added the MTV Playback block on Fridays at 1:00 a.m., which aired episodes of Ren and Stimpy, The Young Ones and The State. It also premiered the new series MTV2 Legit, which is a compilation of classic cartoons, skits, reality and music videos from MTV during the 1990s; it only lasted for the summer of 2009. In early 2010, MTV2 cut down the amount of music videos it broadcasts and is now focusing more on acquired and original programming.
Music programming remained the same on MTV2, airing only between 3 and 8 a.m. (AMTV2). On July 21, 2011, Jose Mangin took over as host of Headbangers Ball, which became a web-only show until its cancellation in September 2012 (a move criticized by Mangin said in an interview with a bloody-disgusting.com, saying, "I guess it's just the odd man out of their line-up, you know?. They do a lot of hip hop and they support that music fully. They used to support rock"). By November 2011, AMTV2 music programming switched to all hip-hop videos. The only non hip-hop music programming on MTV2 airing as of April 2012 is 120 Minutes. On July 31, 2011, Matt Pinfield returned to host the newly revived 120 Minutes, whose title was amended to 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield; the series originally was set to air monthly, not weekly, but moved to Fridays from 6 to 8 a.m. ET until a move to 7 to 9 a.m. ET on October 12, 2012. 120 Seconds, a shortened web-only version, will air all other weeks on MTVhive.com.
In recent years
MTV2's reinvention kicked off with the debut of its new original series Guy Code on November 15, 2011. The series closed out its first season as the highest-rated program in network history, amassing significant time period increases among MTV2's core male demographic with a 55% increase among men 12-34 and massive 188% increase in viewership among male teens, as well as a 44% increase among 12- to 34-year-olds overall. The second season of Guy Code closed out its sophomore run on September 25, 2012 as MTV2's highest-rated and most-watched original series ever. Throughout the course of the season, Guy Code remained among the three highest-rated first-run shows on ad-supported cable during its time period (11:00–11:30 p.m.) among males 12-24, and averaged 296,000 total viewers.
MTV2 next debuted Nitro Circus Live, an original series featuring 17-time X Games medalist Travis Pastrana and his sports-adventure troupe bridging the gap between extreme sports and unabashed daredevil antics, on March 27, 2012 . The first season of Nitro Circus Live became MTV2's highest-rated original series among the network's core demographic of men 12-34 since 2006, delivering an average rating of .42 and a 50% time period increase versus the year prior. In addition, the first season improved its prior year time period by 27%.
On May 22, 2012, MTV2 premiered the comedic game show Hip Hop Squares, a revitalization of the iconic game show Hollywood Squares that featured an original style and personality tailor-made for the MTV2 audience. The show stayed true to the tic-tac-toe format of the original game show, while infusing it with well-known personalities in hip-hop culture. In addition, MTV2 brought back The Dub Magazine Project for a second season on October 28, 2012 to give viewers a unique and rarely seen glimpse into the lives and deepest obsessions of entertainment and sports personalities.
2013 saw MTV2 expand its original programming slate further with the premieres of Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family, the Guy Code spinoff, Guy Court; Ain't that America and Charlamagne and Friends. During this time, MTV2 introduced a new version of the "Two-Headed Dog" logo, with the channel's name rendered in a new font. In 2014, MTV2 debuted Jobs That Don't Suck, a show spotlighting young entrepreneurs, and the weekly series Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave, created from MTV's partnership with Major League Baseball.
On November 11, 2014, MTV2 renewed Wild n' Out & Guy Code and greenlit two new series: a comedic game show, MTV2's Joking Off, and a news satire series under the working title Number 2 News. Because of the popularity of MTV2's original programming, the network was listed as one of Comedy Hype's 20 Game Changers of Comedy of 2015. Joking Off premiered on April 1, 2015 and Number 2 News, renamed Not Exactly News, premiered on June 17, 2015. In the Summer of 2015, MTV2 debuted the reality series, Kingin' with Tyga, and panel show, Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne.
Music programming is seen during the AMTV2 block, which airs Monday-Fridays from 4 to 9 a.m. AMTV2 is blocked in as "MTV2 Jams" (using the same bumpers as its sister network, MTV Jams), which runs from 4AM-8AM Eastern, and "MTV2 Music Mix" (known on-air as Morning Music Buzz), which runs from 8AM-9AM Eastern. "Jams" primarily features hip-hop music videos, while "Music Mix" features a mixture of hip-hop, rock, and alternative videos.
On October 28, 2012, MTV2 relaunched its Sucker Free series as The Week in Jams, followed by additional airings on MTV Jams. Where Sucker Free Countdown focused primarily on music, the expanded focus of The Week in Jams includes interviews, fashion trends, music, sports and hip-hop lifestyle. MTV recruited a stable of hip hop contributors to serve as the hosts of The Week in Jams and to provide expert commentary across MTV's channels including: mixtape legend, radio personality and television host DJ Envy; industry insider, radio personality and cast member of MTV2's Guy Code Charlamagne Tha God; Motown Records recording artist and songwriter Sofi Green; insider Maestro; and radio personality and nationally syndicated nighttime radio host Nessa, to join MTV hip hop expert and MTV News correspondent, Sway Calloway. However, the show hasn't been seen on MTV2's schedule since late 2013.
120 Minutes was also removed from the MTV2 schedule after its February 1, 2013 broadcast without announcement. A two-hour indie block called Artists to Watch took its slot during the same Friday 7 to 9 a.m. ET timeslot. MTV Clubland, an EDM block on the flagship network, premiered on March 30, 2013; it continues to be seen on AMTV
In 2010, MTV2 differed itself from the flagship MTV channel by incorporating off-network syndicated programming onto its schedule. Initially, the programming consisted of sitcoms aimed at an African American audience such as In Living Color, Martin, The Bernie Mac Show, Smart Guy, and The Wayans Bros.. By 2012, its slate of acquired programming expanded to include comedy series aimed at teenagers and young adults. Notable shows include Boy Meets World, Malcolm in the Middle, Family Matters, Everybody Hates Chris, Scrubs, Entourage, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Kenan and Kel, and Saved by the Bell.
MTV2 HD is a high definition simulcast feed of MTV2 that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format, it launched in early 2012. AT&T U-verse added the HD feed on June 2012. It is also slowly being added to other providers in select areas, such as Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications and Directv.
From 2001 until 2015, MTV2 had a small network of terrestrial television affiliates that carried the network for free as a result of MTV's purchase of The Box in 2001. The broadcast network branch slowly thinned out as other parties purchased stations, with some leaving the air as a result of the digital transition dislocating those stations from their channel positions, and in most cases, the retransmission consent contracts for Viacom's networks, including MTV2, precluded these stations from having any cable or satellite carriage on their own, notwithstanding existing complications involving low-power stations and cable carriage. The over-the-air stations also created a side effect of requiring MTV2's programming to meet the FCC's broadcast safe harbor and in some cases, educational and informational programming requirements. Eventually, Viacom let their affiliation agreements lapse with their broadcast affiliates, and those other stations have become affiliates of other networks, or ceased all operations.
- Europe: MTV Rocks, which focused solely on alternative rock and indie, broadcast from London. It was called MTV Two.
- Canada: MTV2 in Canada was very similar to its American counterpart, however it had VJs who host shows such as MTV2 Videos (music videos). The original incarnation of MTV2 featured a non-stop freeform mix of music videos as well as a select amount of concert performances. It was replaced by PunchMuch (Now known as Juicebox) in June 2005.
- Germany: A version of MTV2 was replaced by Nick in September 2005. Unlike the original, MTV2 Pop was a mainstream channel. However, MTV Rocks is being offered by several pay-TV services.
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