The Box (U.S.)

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Not to be confused with The Box (UK and Ireland).
The Box
The box logo.jpg
Launched 1985
Closed 2001
Country United States
Formerly called Video Jukebox Network
Replaced by MTV2

The Box (formerly Video Jukebox Network) was a cable, satellite, and UHF broadcast television channel.

History[edit]

The Box's original version existed in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, debuting in Miami in 1985. The channel was initially a product of the Miami Music scene, hosted by local Miami Bass rappers known as Miami Boyz. "The Box" is a shortened term as the channel was originally named 'Video Jukebox Network'.

From the early 1990s the service allowed their viewers the ability to dial a telephone number, enter a code, and the latest or a classic music video that was requested was played on their TV. At first all of The Box's request lines used a large block of Miami, Florida telephone numbers and callers were only charged for a long distance call, However realizing that they needed to make money The Box switched to the pay-per-call 1-900 line service in which callers were charged from $1.99 to $3.99 per call to make a request of up to three videos.

The channel was famous for being an "underground" outlet for music videos not shown or even banned on MTV, with up to 350 videos selectable at any given time in each of the 170 (in September 1992) different "Boxes" throughout the United States. Each "Box" had a unique playlist, usually custom catered to the market it was in, giving great exposure to more local and obscure groups. Videos cost between $0.99 and $3.99 and, on a national average, took around 20 minutes to appear after being ordered. The channel was known for its rough-around-the-edges and "bootleg"-like feel, sometimes making it appear like the channel was of low quality. Despite this, the channel was known to have many very famous videos appear in heavy rotation on The Box months before appearing on MTV - Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" was seen on The Box many months before "breaking out" - and was largely responsible in breaking out acts such as Sir Mix-A-Lot and Green Jelly.

The Box was acquired by MTV Networks in May, 1999 and The Box's programming was replaced on January 1, 2001 with the signal of the MTV2 cable network.[1]

Founder and former owner Steve Peters began a short-lived record label from the earnings of Video Jukebox entitled Peter's Records, but despite having his foot in the local Miami Bass scene, and employing Hip-Hop producers from abroad, he never managed to find a hit record and ended the label before The Box was sold. Some cities in the U.S. had terrestrial (over-the-air) transmitters for The Box and later MTV2, but many (although not all) have now been sold off as of 2012.

The principle behind "The Box" was later revived when SWRV, a channel created by Music Choice, debuted in 2010.

Technology[edit]

Headends had a video server which allowed for localized content mixes — local demographics could be taken into account or frequently requested genres/bands could be queued automatically. The video server had up to a 64GB HDD and the video programs were compressed in MPEG2. In 2000, The Box had approximately 1,800 music videos, 150-300 of which were queued across the network, at any given time. Subscribers could call the Interactive Voice Response at The Box's central office to request over the phone, which was typical, but could also request by internet or set-top box. The central office would then send data to the individual headends regarding what was ordered.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MTV closes The Box. Broadcasting & Cable: October 30, 2000. The Box Music Network also included The Box Fusion, a music channel and online channel. Management included Alan McGlade, President, Peter Cohen, SVP Programming, and Greg Willis, SVP Sales & Marketing
  2. ^ Patent US6124854: Interactive Video System E. Paul Sartain et al. September 26, 2000.