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CMT (American TV channel)

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Country Music Television (CMT)
CMT logo
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersNew York City
Spanish (via SAP audio track)
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
OwnerParamount Media Networks
(Paramount Global)
ParentMTV Entertainment Group
Sister channels
LaunchedMarch 5, 1983; 41 years ago (1983-03-05)
Former namesCMTV (1983)[1]
Streaming media
Affiliated Streaming ServiceParamount+
Service(s)DirecTV Stream, fuboTV, Philo, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Vidgo TV, Hulu with Live TV

CMT (originally standing for Country Music Television) is an American pay TV network. Launched on March 5, 1983, as Country Music Television, CMT was the first nationally available channel devoted to country music and country music videos, with its programming also including concerts, specials, and biographies of country music stars. Over time, the network's programming expanded to incorporate original lifestyle/reality programming, and sitcoms aimed at audiences of all walks of life.

As of December 2023, CMT is available to approximately 56,000,000 pay television households in the United States-down from its 2011 peak of 93,000,000 households.[2] The channel's headquarters are located in One Astor Plaza in New York City, and has additional offices in Nashville, Tennessee.


Early years (1983–1991)[edit]

Logo introduced when MTV bought the network in 2000.

CMTV, an initialism for Country Music Television, was founded by Glenn D. Daniels, the owner of Video World Productions in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Daniels put together the ownership group of Telestar Corporation and the Blinder Robinson & Company investment bank in a three-way split. Daniels also served as the program director and the first president of the network.[3] The network launched on March 5, 1983, at 6:19 p.m. CT, beating its chief competitor, The Nashville Network, to air by two days. The first video clip to air on CMT was Faron Young's 1971 hit "It's Four in the Morning".[4] The following summer, MTV (acquired by Viacom 16 years later) filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the initials CMTV, and the network changed its name to simply CMT.[5]

In 1991, Opryland USA and its owner Gaylord Entertainment Company acquired CMT in a $34 million deal.[6] The network was sold by a group led by radio station owner Robert Sillerman, record producer James Guercio and Nyhl L Henson.[6] Opryland USA and owner Gaylord also owned CMT's competitor The Nashville Network. In October 1992, CMT launched its first international channel, CMT Europe, as part of the Sky Multichannels package. In July 1995, CMT launched its Brazilian version in association with Grupo Abril's TVA.[7] By 1998, Gaylord reported $10 million in losses from CMT Europe and decided to cease broadcasting the network on March 31, 1998.[8] 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.[8]

On October 1, 1994, CMT made its first major format change by adding several new music-oriented programs.[9] 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.[10] 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, relaunching it as a domestic version of CMT.[11]

Under CBS/Viacom (1997–2017)[edit]

CMT's Nashville offices for music-based operations.

In 1997, both CMT and TNN were sold to Westinghouse, then-owner of CBS, for a reported $1.5 billion.[12] CBS would in-turn be acquired by Viacom in 2000, assuming ownership of CMT and TNN and folding them into the MTV Networks. TNN would phase out country programming to avoid overlap with CMT, changing its name to "The National Network" (and later relaunching altogether as Spike in 2003, and Paramount Network in 2018).

Despite the decrease in music programming, CMT experienced significant ratings gains since its acquisition. By 2007, the channel was available in more than 83 million homes.[13] On April 4, 2012, CMT announced its first adult animated series, Bounty Hunters, and Trinity 911, a 10-episode "workplace docu-comedy".[14] Trinity 911 was later renamed Big Texas Heat[15] and was removed from the schedule after airing four episodes.[citation needed]

On June 10, 2016, CMT announced that they would pick up the ABC series Nashville following its original cancellation of the series. The network would order a fifth season of 22 episodes.[16]

Restructuring (2017–present)[edit]

In 2017, as part of Viacom's restructuring plans, CMT would begin a transition back to unscripted programming.[17] As a result, Nashville's sixth season would also be its last.[18][19]

As part of its shift back to unscripted programming, CMT announced Music City in September 2017,[20] a reality series created by Adam DiVello of The Hills and Laguna Beach fame.[21] Set in Nashville, the show features Bryant Lowry, a drummer in the Nashville pop band Jet Black Alley Cat.[22][23] The series premiered on March 1, 2018.[24][25]

In 2019, Viacom acquired Pluto TV, and launched several CMT-branded channels, including a channel focused on Western genre movies (CMT Westerns) and a channel dedicated to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.[26][27][28]

In October 2021, CMT picked up the second season of The Last Cowboy—a reality series by Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan. The program had moved from Paramount Network as part of an aborted[29] relaunch of the network as a movie channel.[30]


CMT's current programming consists largely of acquired sitcoms and movies. The channel's daily country music programming consists of a five-hour music video block, seen during the early morning hours, as well as CMT Hot Twenty, which airs on weekend mornings. Of Paramount's former music channels (not counting its suite of all-music digital channels), CMT has historically been the most devoted to music-related programming and previously set aside at least six hours of its daily schedule for music videos during the overnight and morning hours.[citation needed] In addition, most of CMT's original programming is centered on, or related to, the Culture of Dallas or Nashville, Tennessee, where the network's studios are located.[31]

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"). Specials seen on the network include the annual CMT Music Awards (with an "extended version" airing since 2022, when the live telecast moved to CBS[32]), and CMT Crossroads, which pairs country music artists with musicians from other music genres. It also carries simulcasts of MTV and Nickelodeon's own award specials as part of Paramount's common "road block" event programming strategy.

CMT Music[edit]

CMT Music
CountryUnited States
HeadquartersNew York
Picture format480i (SDTV)
OwnerParamount Media Networks
ParentMTV Entertainment Group
Sister channelsCMT
LaunchedAugust 1, 1998; 25 years ago (1998-08-01)
Former namesVH1 Country (1998–2006)
CMT Pure Country (2006–16)

CMT Music (formerly CMT Pure Country) is an American pay television channel and a sister network to CMT. It exclusively carries country music videos in an 8-hour programming wheel schedule similar to several other video-exclusive networks owned by Paramount Global.[citation needed]


Logo as CMT Pure Country, 2006-2016

The network was first launched as VH1 Country, a country music video-oriented spinoff of VH1, on August 1, 1998; predating the folding of CBS Cable networks TNN and CMT into Viacom.[citation needed] On May 27, 2006, the channel rebranded as CMT Pure Country to realign the CMT brand to solely represent Viacom's country music-related programming.[citation needed]

On January 4, 2016, the network's name was changed to CMT Music.[33] Outside of the addition of full-length video tags throughout videos and new imaging, no major changes came to the channel's programming.[citation needed] In 2015, the network discontinued specific video blocks due to that year's cutbacks throughout Viacom, including music video programmers.[citation needed]

The network has lost carriage throughout time with the growth of streaming video options, being carried solely in standard definition, and CMT no longer being considered a prime network among those in Paramount Global's suite.[citation needed] CMT Music has generally been depreciated by Paramount Global in current retransmission consent negotiations with cable and streaming providers for other options; such as Pluto TV, which provides several CMT and Vevo-branded country music channels.[citation needed] in 2021, Spectrum removed it from their current-day packages, with only grandfathered subscribers with older packages able to view the network.[citation needed]


Currently, the network offers an eight-hour wheel of videos, all under the EPG-only title of CMT Music with little theming of video blocks outside promoting special events such as the CMT Music Awards nominees and winners around the ceremony. As Pure Country, the network featured branded blocks of programming sub-divided by genres and periods of time:

  • Pure Vintage featured a mix of classic and vintage country music videos that were filmed and aired prior to 2000, including older performance video clips of songs. The block aired for 30 minutes, twice a day.
  • The Edge Bluegrass, neo-traditionalist country, and Americana music videos are featured. Originally branded as Wide Open Country
  • Studio 330 Sessions Live sessions recorded at CMT's studios in Nashville (330 refers to CMT's Nashville address of 330 Commerce Street). Segments from the sessions continue to air in the channel's current rotation.
  • Pure 12 Pack Countdown As with all of MTV's countdown shows, a limited pool of videos was voted on by fans online and sorted by popularity without industry or recording metrics.

International and related networks[edit]

  • CMT Europe - Launched in October 1992 and closed in March 1998.
  • CMT Brazil - Launched in July 1995 and closed in March 2001. Replaced by MusicCountry.[34][35]
  • CMT Australia - Launched on July 1, 2020, as a replacement for Country Music Channel. Dedicated to country music videos.
  • CMT - Canadian version majority-owned by Corus Entertainment with Viacom owning a 10% stake in the channel, though the channel has drifted further than even the American CMT, no longer providing any country-related programming for a generic focus on classic sitcoms.
  • The Nashville Network - A former rival network. It became a sibling to CMT in 1997 and eventually shifted to a general entertainment format to prevent overlap. Its original incarnation was relaunched as Spike TV in 2003 and, later, Paramount Network in 2018.


  1. ^ Charles K. Wolfe; James E. Akenson (October 17, 2014). Country Music Annual 2001. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813157184. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  2. ^ "U.S. cable network households (universe), 1990 – 2023". wrestlenomics.com. May 14, 2024. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  3. ^ Wolfe, Charles; Akenson, James (2001). Country Music Annual 2001. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 8. ISBN 0813130883. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Andrew Leahey (March 6, 2015). "Flashback: CMT Airs First Country Music Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Kingsbury, Paul; McCall, Michael; Rumble, John (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. p. 94. ISBN 9780199920839. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Nashville Net closes CMT acquisition deal". Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  7. ^ "TVA passa a distribuir em julho canal dedicado à música country". Folha de S.Paulo (in Brazilian Portuguese). June 18, 1995. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Katz, Richard (February 3, 1998). "Gaylord shutters CMT Euro". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  9. ^ "CMT launches new series". BNET. Archived from the original on July 2, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  10. ^ "U.S. country TV drops Canadian videos". Toronto Star. January 10, 1995. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  11. ^ "Country music TV channels in accord". Toronto Star. March 8, 1996. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  12. ^ "CBS makes cable a 'core business;' with purchase of TNN and CMT, network doubles its cable holdings.(cable television networks)" Article from: Broadcasting & Cable: February 17, 1997 Author: Katz, Michael
  13. ^ Underwood, Ryan (April 15, 2007). "If it has a screen, CMT is on it". The Tennessean.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 4, 2012). "CMT Picks Up Two New Series: 'Bounty Hunters,' and 'Trinity 911'". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  15. ^ "CMT Lines Up Big Premieres for November with Returning Favorite "Redneck Island" Along with New Series "Chainsaw Gang" and "Big Texas Heat"". The Futon Critic. October 15, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (June 10, 2016). "'Nashville' Picked Up For Season 5 By CMT With Next-Day Play on Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  17. ^ Lieberman, David (February 9, 2017). "Viacom CEO Supports Paramount And Non-Core Networks – But For How Long?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 3, 2017). "CMT Programming Chief Jayson Dinsmore On CMT's New 'Reinforcing' Brand Status, More 'Sun Records' & Scripted Future". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 17, 2017). "'Nashville' To End: Season 6 On CMT Will Be Country Drama Series' Last". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  20. ^ "New Docu-Series Music City Coming to CMT in 2018". CMT News. Archived from the original on September 27, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  21. ^ "Can 'Music City' break Nashville's reality TV curse?". The Tennessean. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  22. ^ Thompson, Avery (February 9, 2018). "'Music City': Meet The Newest Cast Members Of CMT's Nashville Reality Show". Hollywood Life. Archived from the original on March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  23. ^ Maue, Savanna. "Bryant Lowry, a musician with Topeka roots, featured in upcoming CMT show 'Music City'". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  24. ^ "Kerry and Rachyl's Marriage Is Tested This Season on Music City: 'I Kind of Messed Up'". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  25. ^ "Meet the Music City Cast". CMT News. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  26. ^ "Viacom Announces Completion of Pluto TV Acquisition". www.businesswire.com. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  27. ^ Peterson, Tim (April 16, 2019). "Viacom will debut 15 channels on Pluto TV to bolster its upfront pitch". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  28. ^ Bouma, Luke (August 19, 2019). "Pluto TV is Adding 4 New Channels Tomorrow Including TV Land Drama, TV Land Sitcoms, & Comedy Central Roast". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  29. ^ White, Peter (January 24, 2022). "Paramount Movie Network Put On Ice As ViacomCBS Nixes Rebrand Plans For 'Yellowstone' Network". Deadline. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  30. ^ "Taylor Sheridan Reality Series 'The Last Cowboy' Moves To CMT, Ropes Season 2 Premiere Date". Deadline. October 20, 2021. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  31. ^ Nakamura, Reid (March 11, 2019). "CMT Orders Nashville Version of 'Hollywood Squares' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  32. ^ Grein, Paul (June 28, 2021). "CMT Music Awards Set to Move to CBS in 2022". Billboard. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  33. ^ "CMT Pure Country will rebrand as CMT Music 1/4/16". Comcast Cable forum notification. December 10, 2015. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  35. ^ "CMT PARTE PARA NOVAS PARADAS DO SUCESSO". November 1, 2000.

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