MTV Jams

From Academic Kids

MTV Jams is a Viacom-owned American hip-hop/urban music video channel that debuted in mid-2002, replacing MTVX. Like its "sister stations", VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, VH1 Country, MTV Hits, VH1 Mega Hits, and previously MTVX, MTV Jams is available exclusively on digital cable packages or satellite TV providers, such as DirecTV.

MTV Jams is notable for playing music videos all day every day, with no paid advertisements; short promotional commercials for MTV Jams, its sister stations, and other Viacom-related events do air infrequently between videos. Like all the other digital MTV/VH1 channels, MTV Jams is based off of the original programming format that MTV2 followed, whereby 8 hours of videos are programmed each day—airing first at 6 AM--and then repeated twice, starting again at 2 PM and 10 PM. A completely new cycle begins on the next day at 6 AM.

The replacement of MTVX with MTV Jams was decried by many rock music fans. MTV's explanation was that, based upon ratings and Billboard chart information, more of the American population would prefer to see hip-hop and R&B music videos, rather than the hard rock videos which MTVX had been created to play.

For a while, MTV Jams' playlist was becoming more predictable and less random than it originally was at its inception; the new videos that were in heavy rotation were sometimes spun once an hour or once every two hours.

However, more recently, MTV Jams seems to have taken efforts to add variety into its programming. Beginning in the summer of 2004, MTV Jams played more obscure videos, as well as a larger selection of older hip-hop videos, than it had played during the previous year. At present, the breadth of MTV Jams' playlist surpasses that of its sister stations VH1 Soul and MTV Hits, with several hundred more videos played on a regular basis.

Occassionally, MTV Jams will air special, unannounced alphabetical marathons of music videos by artist. This is usually done during holiday weeks and weekends, at times which most of the channel's staff has a vacation. A short A-Z marathon of videos was played during the week of Labor Day 2004; another longer one, which contained over 1100 distinct videos, was played starting the day after Christmas 2004 and airing straight through New Year's 2005 and for the first few days of 2005.

From time to time, MTV Jams is also known to include special themed blocks of proramming, for example an hour of a specific artist or label's videos, an hour block of 90's gangsta rap, or a string of reggae-style videos. This is always unannounced and spontaenous for viewers, in the vein of MTV2's original format. In the fall of 2004 MTV Jams presented a week of shows titled "Takeover" where artists were invited to host a day of programming. Artists included Usher, Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Nelly, and Fat Joe. Each artist played their favorite videos and their own videos. Additionally MTV Specials such as 'Diary' and live performance footage was played that related to the artists. This may mark the first time the channel has ever aired any non-music video programming. Most recently, in March of 2005, MTV Jams invited 50 Cent to their studios to introduce his and his posse's music videos, as well as to play some of his favorite old school videos. He also spoke briefly between videos about his newest album, and about his musical inspirations. To date, these two specials were the closest thing to actual VJing that the low-budget channel has ever had.

Presently, most of the urban music videos that have ever aired on an MTV, VH1, or BET network can be seen on MTV Jams, as well as many more obscure urban videos that cannot be seen on any other Viacom network. For specific information on exactly which videos have aired on the channel, see List of videos played on MTV Jams.

MTV Jams is presently mostly only available on the East Coast, as are MTV Hits, VH1 Soul, VH1 Country, VH1 Mega Hits, and VH-Uno, a video-based channel that is entirely presented in Spanish. Subscribers of Comcast digital cable, as well as DirecTV and the Dish satellite television services, receive most, if not all, of the digital music video channels.


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