Those who still want their MTV are about to get their fill. On Aug. 1, the channel currently known as VH1 Classic will be rebranded as MTV Classic, and be pumped full of all the shows that built Music Television into a viewing destination for all the cool kids in your neighborhood.
The new-old network will make its debut with “MTV Hour One,” a replay of the exact first hour of programming MTV aired, and then segue into a “Total Request Live” retrospective, followed by a best-of run of “MTV Unplugged.”
The shows that will be making their reappearance on MTV Classic during the hours of 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. include “Daria,” “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Aeon Flux,” “Run’s House,” “Pimp My Ride,” “Clone High,” and just about every other show that still carries a cult following, with desperate pleas from fans to make the series available for streaming. (“Daria” is actually available to stream on Hulu.) Fridays during primetime will be devoted to music programming — “Unplugged,” “Storytellers,” and live performances.
“From ‘Beavis & Butt-Head’ to ‘Laguna Beach,’ MTV’s programming vault is a music and pop culture goldmine with universal resonance,” MTV president Sean Atkins said in a statement.
The launch date isn’t random — for those that don’t recall, Aug. 1 was when MTV first blinked on 35 years ago.
The rebranding mimics a strategy that has stood Turner’s Adult Swim in good stead. Adult Swim, the Jekyll to Cartoon Network’s Mr. Hyde, has been one of the few networks to not see the kind of audience erosion that other cable networks have experienced, particularly when it comes to those in the highly coveted 18-34 demographic. Adult Swim built itself into a destination for weird original programming by picking up and running defunct series with cult followings. Today its reruns of those series draw higher ratings than a good chunk of original cable series, and its originals like “Rick and Morty” eat other shows’ lunches in the male 18-34 demographic so beloved by advertisers.
MTV and its fellow Viacom networks have been hit especially hard by the changing viewing habits of the younger demographics, resulting in what analyst firm MoffettNathanson predicted in June will be an eighth straight quarter of declines in U.S. ad sales when Viacom reports its earnings on Aug. 4. The birth of MTV Classic seems to indicate that to understand the future, sometimes you have to return to the past.