MTV logo at the MTV/T3 party at Pierre Cardin's Villa during the 56th International Cannes Film Festival in May 2003
MTV logo | Steve Finn/Getty Images

MTV is an American cable channel whose initials stand for “Music Television.” When it debuted in 1981, the network aired music videos 24 hours a day. It helped launch the careers of superstars such as Michael Jackson and Madonna. But over the years, the boundary-pushing brand has become a source for not only music but also reality TV shows, celebrity news, and pop culture.

Among MTV’s most iconic programs are the animated series Beavis and Butt-Head; the Johnny Knoxville-led Jackass; Jersey Shore, featuring the gym-tan-laundry crew of Snooki, Jwoww, DJ Pauly D, and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino; and the reality-TV pioneering The Real World.

Current hits include Catfish: The TV Show, Jersey Shore Family Vacation, My Life on MTV, the long-running MTV Cribs, and Ridiculousness, hosted by the former pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.

The channel has also hosted the yearly awards show the MTV VMAs since 1984 and the MTV Movie Awards since 1992.

  • Founders: Robert Pittman, Les Garland, Tom Freston, John Sykes
  • Launched: 1981
  • Owner: ViacomCBS
  • How to watch: Paid basic cable subscription or live-TV streaming services such as Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Paramount+, Pluto TV, and Sling
  • Top current programs: Catfish: The TV Show, The Challenge, Floribama Shore, Jersey Shore Family Vacation, My Life on MTV, MTV Cribs, Ridiculousness
  • Most popular shows of all time: Aeon Flux, Beavis and Butt-Head, Celebrity Deathmatch, The Hills, Jackass, Jersey Shore, Laguna Beach, Loveline, MTV Cribs, MTV Unplugged, My Super Sweet 16, The Osbournes, Pimp My Ride, Punk’d, The Real World, Teen Mom, Teen Wolf, Total Request Live (TRL), Wildin’ Out
  • Famous for: Bold logo, MTV Moon Person, “MTV Theme Song (Man on the Moon),” pushing cultural boundaries

Visit the MTV website.

Read more about MTV, and stay up to date on shows, behind-the-scenes info, and cast members:

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