MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable and satellite television channel owned by Viacom Media Networks (a division of Viacom) and headquartered in New York City. Launched on August 1, 1981, the channel originally aired music videos as guided by television personalities known as "video jockeys" (VJs). In its early years, MTV's main target demographic was young adults, but today it is primarily towards teenagers, particularly high school and college students. MTV has toned down its music video programming significantly in recent years, and its programming now consists mainly of original reality, comedy and drama programming and some off-network syndicated programs and films, with limited music video programming in off-peak time periods. It has also become involved in promoting left-wing political issues and progressive social causes. The network received criticism towards this change of focus, both by certain segments of its audience and musicians. MTV's influence on its audience, including issues involving censorship and social activism, has also been a subject of debate for several years.
In recent years, MTV had struggled with the secular decline of music-related cable media. Its ratings had been said to be failing systematically, as younger viewers increasingly shift towards digital media, with yearly ratings drops as high as 29%; thus there was doubt of the lasting relevance of MTV towards young audiences.
MTV has spawned numerous sister channels in the US and affiliated channels internationally, some of which have gone independent, with approximately 90.6 million American households in the United States receiving MTV as of January 2016.