Television has been around for many decades, and in that time, a plethora of different networks have come and gone that were dedicated to all manner of programming. But there are also a bunch that have passed the test of time and stuck around, although not always delivering the same kind of programming that they did when they were initially developed. And not everybody is into that whole rebranding thing that TV Guide Channel went through when it became Pop.
Here are 8 networks that are almost completely different in the modern day from what they were when they started out. Let’s whistle a tune and start off with that most obvious of the bunch, shall we?
A channel that went from playing Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Would Do You Good” to one that took that advice at its face value, MTV debuted in 1982 with The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and while it remained true to the music video format for years, The Real World and Beavis and Butthead ushered in a new era of reality TV and scripted television, and even the lonely TRL had to give it up. Why are there even Video Music Awards on this network anymore when you usually have to flip to M2 or one of the other channels?
New Name Should Be: Still MTV, but it stands for Millennial Television
The History Channel came into existence in 1995, and it was one of the main places on TV to find legitimately interesting and informative shows and specials about every subject under the sun, from wars to inventions to the wonders of the world (to more wars). But with History International and H2 serving as the places where you can find the info-tainment shows that used to be History’s bread and butter, the flagship network gave way to non-historical fodder like Ancient Aliens, Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers. For what it’s worth, I’m totally fine with them bringing more history-based scripted shows like Vikings to balance things.
New Name Should Be: Aliens and Antiques
If we’re going to give TLC credit for anything here, it’s that they knew enough to change what its abbreviation originally stood for, The Learning Channel, soon after it stopped delivering programming that had actual information in it. After the network became The Learning Channel in 1980, it aired genuinely interesting and enlightening specials for people of all ages. But then gears were shifted and the channel seemingly wanted to only exploit brides-to-be and social oddities through shows like Say Yes to the Dress, 19 Kids and Counting (which went so well for them), I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, Little People, Big World and Breaking Amish, among dozens of others.
New Name Should Be: Lookit Them Folks Channel
Back in 1984 when A&E first hit the cable spectrum, it seemed to takes its “Arts and Entertainment” name seriously, airing both high quality TV series (like PBS dramas and Night Court) and behind-the-curtain looks at iconic figures through shows like Biography. But then as time passed and network execs decided that more original programming was the way to go, we got series such as Criss Angel: Mindfreak, Steven Seagal: Lawman, Paranormal Cops and, of course, Duck Dynasty. At least Bates Motel was better than expected.
New Name Should Be: A(rtless) & E(ndless Reality Shows)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. When Bravo was first launched back in 1980, it was dedicated to airing highbrow programming like performance art, classic movies and some indie films. Even its earlier reality TV shows, like Inside the Actor’s Studio, Celebrity Poker Showdown and Top Chef, were arguably classier than normal. And then came the Real Housewives franchise, taking over both the network and several metro cities across the country. And it just got murkier from there, and Bravo is a ghostly pale representation of what it once was.
New Name Should Be: Polite Golf Clap
As TV has shown us time and again, if you’re interested in listening to music, you might as well turn on the radio or hit up Spotify. A country music alternative to MTV (and a direct competitor to The Nashville Network), CMT sauntered into the world in 1983 and aired the shit out of some music videos for years. But then, as it goes with almost everything these days, reality TV reared its head and altered the programming lineup forever, giving us series like Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, Party Down South and Guntucky. If you want country music, head to Great American Country.
New Name Should Be: Rednecks, Etc.
When TV Land first came into being in 1996, it was basically just a 24-hour version of Nick at Nite, dedicated to airing the most classic shows in TV history that you couldn’t often find anywhere else. But now, the channel is a mix of so-so original programming, a sprinkling of older shows like Gilligan’s Island and Bonanza, and a handful of mostly modern sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond and How I Met Your Mother. (And it’s not like Nick at Nite is any better these days.) Thank goodness for MeTV’s awesome lineup of yesteryear’s hit shows.
New Name Should Be: TV Bland
The Weather Channel
Much like TV Guide Channel came into being as a way to show the pre-Internet world what was happening, The Weather Channel was developed for one purpose: to show the weather. I can’t tell you how many years the Local on the 8s was a signature part of my life. But then technology brought weather maps and forecasts directly to our fingertips, and The Weather Channel decided to branch out with a slew of original programs that centered on weather events, such as Storm Riders, Tornado Alley and Weather That Changed the World. But there may be hope for TWC purists, as networks execs recently said that they’re focused on bringing weather back to the forefront.
New Name Should Be: The Weatherish Channelish
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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