|Launched||March 5, 1983|
|Owned by||Viacom Media Networks (Viacom)|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Headquarters||Nashville, Tennessee, United States|
|Formerly called||CMTV (1983)|
|Sister channel(s)||CMT Music, Nickelodeon, TV Land,|
|Dish Network||166 (HD/SD)|
|Verizon FiOS||221 (SD)
|AT&T U-verse||525 (SD)
Country Music Television (typically abbreviated as CMT, previously as CMTV) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom. CMT was the first nationally broadcast cable channel devoted to country music and country music videos. Programming on the channel originally featured country music videos, taped concerts and biographies of country music stars, but now mainly consists of reality programs, off-network syndicated shows and movies with a minimal amount of music videos.
As of February 2015, approximately 86,989,000 American households (74.7% of households with television) receive CMT.
CMT was launched on March 5, 1983, at 6:19 p.m. CT; it was created and founded by Glenn D. Daniels and up-linked from the Video World Productions facility in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Daniels put together the investor group of Telestar Corporation and the penny stock securities firm Blinder, Robinson & Company in a three-way ownership split.
Daniels also served as the program director and the first president of the network, originally called CMTV but officially named "Country Music Television" (the "V" was dropped in response to a complaint by competitor MTV). CMT beat its chief competitor, The Nashville Network (TNN), to the air by two days, earning it the distinction of being the world's first 24-hour country music cable television network. CMT was positioned to play country music videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while TNN was geared toward programming "country lifestyle" television series and game shows. The very first video clip to air on CMT was a performance clip of country music legend Faron Young's classic 1971 hit, "It's Four in the Morning".
In 1991, Opryland USA and its owner Gaylord Entertainment Company acquired CMT in a $34 million deal. The network was sold by a group led by radio station owner Robert Sillerman and record producer James Guercio. Opryland USA and owner Gaylord also owned CMT's major competitor The Nashville Network.
In October 1992, CMT launched its first international channel, CMT Europe, as part of the Sky Multichannels package. By 1998, Gaylord reported $10 million in losses from CMT Europe and decided to cease broadcasting the declining network on March 31, 1998. Gaylord had planned to emulate the successful model created by E!, by selling large programming blocks to other European channels, but these plans never occurred.
In 1994, Gaylord made its first major format change for CMT by adding several new music video programs, including Big Ticket, Jammin' Country, The Signature Series, CMT Delivery Room, and CMT Top 12 Countdown. All shows eventually were cancelled by 2001.
In 1995, CMT dropped all videos by Canadian artists without U.S. record contracts in response to the network being replaced in Canada by Calgary, Alberta-based New Country Network. By March 1996, CMT had eventually returned the dropped videos to its playlist after reaching an agreement to acquire a 20% ownership of New Country Network, in addition to renaming it CMT.
In 1997, both CMT and TNN were sold to Westinghouse, then-owner of CBS for a reported $1.5 billion. The acquisition of the two country-themed networks, along with the formation of the ill-fated CBS Eye On People network, and two regional sports networks (the Baltimore-area Home Team Sports, now Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest Sports Channel in the Twin Cities, now Fox Sports North) formed the CBS Cable division, based in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry and a Charlotte office at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
In 1999, Viacom acquired CBS, assuming ownership of CMT and TNN and folding them into the MTV Networks stable. The resulting moves in 2000 led to the closing of the CBS Charlotte office, while Viacom changed the format of TNN, eventually renaming it The National Network and then reformatting it again as Spike. Viacom also changed the format of CMT, modeling it after sister networks MTV and VH1 to include series and movies, in addition to music videos. Over time, the number of music videos on the network had steadily decreased with the late May 2006 rebranding of digital cable network VH1 Country to CMT Pure Country, with music video programming on CMT eventually being relegated mainly to the overnight and morning hours (similar to MTV and VH1).
Despite the decrease in music videos, CMT has experienced significant ratings gains since its acquisition by MTV Networks in 1999. By 2007, the channel was available in more than 83 million homes. As of 2009, the network now reaches 88 million homes.
On April 4, 2012, CMT announced its first cartoon series, Bounty Hunters, featuring the voices of Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall who also serve as executive producers. CMT also announced that it would air Trinity 911, a 10-episode "workplace docu-comedy" that follows the police force in a small Texas town. Trinity 911 was later renamed Big Texas Heat and removed from the schedule after airing four episodes.
CMT's current programming consists of general entertainment programming, movies and reality shows. A significant portion of the non-music programming featured is not related to country music or the country lifestyle. Music videos are still shown, but are usually aired during late night/early morning hours.
Of Viacom's various mainline channels (not counting its suite of all-music digital channels), CMT currently devotes the most time to music videos, with at least six hours of the daily schedule set aside for them during the overnight and morning hours. CMT's music mix is primarily focused on mainstream hit country songs, but also includes occasional videos from crossover, Americana and alternative acts (dubbed "CMT Edge").
One of the most popular programs to be aired on CMT is the CMT music awards. These awards are aired live every year from Nashville, Tennessee. The show consists of awards, such as best new artist and entertainer of the year, along with performances by various artists. CMT music videos are played daily from as early as the 1980s to the present day.