What Channel Is MTV on DirecTV? (2023 Update)

MTV logo.

What Channel Is MTV on DirecTV? (2023 Update)

MTV has undergone tremendous change over the last few years. No matter if you’re a loyal longtime viewer of the network or someone simply interested in seeing what’s new on the station, you deserve to know how to find the channel on your DirecTV guide. The same goes for its handful of sister stations like MTV2, MTV Classic, and MTV Live. Don’t waste your time scouring the channel guide for MTV. We’ll tell you where to find each and every one of its stations, no matter where you’re situated in the United States.

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From $4.99.mo.

Pick your choice of ESPN+, Hulu, and Disney Plus. Plans start as low as $4.99/month for ESPN+ only.

Best Overall
From $64.99/mo.

Free trial available. Watch 75+ channels, including local channels and special premium channel offers.

Best Budget Option

Take a 7-day free trial and stream more than 70 channels live. Record your favorites with unlimited DVR.

MTV Channel Guide

MTV Classic336
MTV Live572

The History of MTV

MTV Moon Man next to network logo.
MTV’s first broadcast introduced viewers to the now-iconic Moon Man.

©Paramount Global – License

MTV is short for Music Television. It was developed by media executive Bob Pittman, an executive at Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment (now Paramount Media Networks). The idea was simple: 24/7 music videos, all day, all night. In no uncertain terms, the network revolutionized both the music and television industries upon its launch in August 1981. It’s a wonder no one ever thought of it before Pittman — especially considering that it quickly became the first profitable cable network in American television history. It remains an iconic cable station to this today.

MTV’s early years featured a diverse mix of music videos from various popular genres. Despite its range of offerings, the network soon became synonymous with pop and rock music from the likes of Def Leppard, Madonna, Mötley Crüe, and Duran Duran. Some even argue these artists owe their superstar success to MTV. The station’s star-making ability continued throughout the 1980s and into the ‘90s. However, everything started to change with the premiere of MTV’s first reality show in 1992. Titled The Real World, its success gradually caused music video airtime on MTV to decline.

By the start of the new millennium, music videos were played nearly 40% less than they were just five years earlier. In their place, MTV increased its original productions: Beavis and Butt-head, Daria, and a slew of edgy reality shows like True Life, Making the Band, Jackass, and more. This gradual scaling back of music in favor of original programming continued throughout the remainder of the 2000s and into the ’10s. In the 2020s, MTV has tried to find a new direction to connect with its latest generation of viewers. It premiered eight new shows in 2022 and nine so far in 2023.

MTV Sister Stations

MTV Live
MTV Classic
CBS Sports Network
Comedy Central
TV Land
Pop TV
The Movie Channel
Paramount Network
Smithsonian Channel

MTV Programming

Still from RuPaul's Drag Race on MTV.
Paramount Global moved VH1 series

RuPaul’s Drag Race

to MTV during the 2023 season.

©MTV – License

Within the last couple of years, MTV’s flagship channel has tried to get away from recent criticisms over lack of variety and originality. From the return of music programs to the premiere of new reality shows and competition series, MTV has all sorts of popular offerings available to watch. Let’s go over the main types of programming you’re most likely to find playing on MTV today. As you’ll soon see, it’s a lot more than just Ridiculousness marathons now.

Music Programs

MTV Unplugged continues to air on MTV as it has since 1989. This iconic music series features artists performing their songs acoustically. It typically showcases more intimate, stripped-down versions of their hit music. Over the decades, it has featured legendary acts ranging from Nirvana to Eric Clapton to Adele and beyond.

In addition to this network staple, MTV recently introduced a show called Fresh Out. As the title suggests, it covers new releases from the most popular artists every week. The program goes over the most important music and pop culture news and features artist interviews, in-studio performances, tour announcements, and more. It premiered in 2020 and continues to air today.

Reality Shows

Since the premiere of The Real World in 1992, reality shows have been a cornerstone of the MTV formula. This is no different in the network’s modern era. The 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom franchises have been going strong in some form or another since 2009. Catfish is a TV show based on the 2010 film. It follows people seeking to uncover the truth behind their online relationships.

Apart from these two legacy programs, every other reality show on MTV has premiered within the last five years or so. Siesta Key tracks the lives of young adults in a Florida beach town. Jersey Shore: Family Vacation reunites the original Jersey Shore cast in different destinations each season. MTV Cribs recently returned to the network, as well.

Competition Shows

MTV has also re-ignited its competition show lineup over the last couple of years. The Challenge has been a mainstay since 1998, but five other competitions have started airing since 2022 alone. This list includes Becoming A Popstar, Love at First Lie, The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist, and The Love Experiment. MTV owner Paramount Global also shuffled up the lineup of its sister station VH1 by moving new episodes of popular competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race to MTV in 2023.

Variety Shows

Then, of course, there are the variety shows. MTV has caught a lot of heat in recent years for its over-reliance on the variety show Ridiculousness, which features a panel of funny on-air personalities reacting to crazy viral video clips. At one point not long ago, the entire MTV lineup was filled with Ridiculousness reruns — no exaggeration.

The criticisms became so strong, MTV knew it needed to make a change. Today, MTV has a wider range of variety shows in a similar vein to Ridiculousness. This includes Deliciousness, which sees a panel reacting to funny food-related clips, and Messyness, which features a panel reacting to chaotic or embarrassing mishaps involving young adults.

What About MTV2?

Still from South Park.

South Park

reruns air on MTV2, a sister station of Comedy Central.

©Comedy Central – License

When MTV shifted its focus away from music videos, MTV2 swooped in to save them from disappearing into the aether. It emerged in 1996, broadcasting a healthy mix of music videos, live performances, and other music-related shows that MTV had quietly dumped. In a matter of years, the music industry grew to love MTV2 even more than MTV — many even produced exclusive content for the channel over the flagship network. 

As the 2000s began, MTV2 was home to a mix of indie music, hip-hop, and alternative rock. But, as the decade went on, MTV2 met a similar fate to MTV. Music was played less and less, with an increased focus on original scripted and unscripted programming. The Andy Milonakis Show, Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘n Out, Wildboyz, Celebrity Deathmatch, and Wonder Showzen all came about on MTV2 during this late 2000s era, all rising to cult classic status in an instant.

Today, every last bit of MTV2’s original programming has come to an end. Instead, the network is used as a place for Paramount Global to air reruns and repeats from other Paramount Media Networks. From Comedy Central to CBS, MTV to VH1, MTV2 doesn’t have any originals to offer its viewers anymore. Perhaps this will change in the coming years, not unlike how MTV has recently undergone a revamping of its own in the past couple of years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does MTV stand for?

MTV stands for “Music Television.” It originally started as a cable channel solely dedicated to airing music videos, but its programming has expanded over the years to include a wide range of content beyond music. This includes original scripted series, reality shows, unscripted competitions, and variety programs.

When did MTV launch?

MTV made its debut on August 1st, 1981. It was a groundbreaking moment in television history, and MTV seemed to know this fact: It repurposed footage of the moon landing to mark the official start of its broadcast. This so-called Moon Man iconography became synonymous with the network in the decades to follow. The channel effectively changed the way people consumed music and entertainment forever.

Does MTV still play music videos?

MTV’s programming has changed quite a bit since its launch in the early 1980s. Over the decades, it has put less and less focus on music videos in favor of its own original programming. However, there are still two music-focused programs on MTV: MTV Unplugged and MTV Fresh Out. Unplugged has been on the air consistently since 1989, while Fresh Out didn’t premiere until 2020.

Why does MTV play so many reruns of Ridiculousness?

MTV has gotten a lot of pushback for airing so many episodes of Ridiculousness on a daily basis. The network doesn’t do this for no reason, though. As it turns out, Paramount Global metrics show that Ridiculousness has a far larger audience of loyal viewers than all of MTV’s other offerings. The answer’s simple: MTV plays so much Ridiculousness because its audience wants to watch it.

What's MTV’s The Challenge about?

The Challenge is a long-running reality competition series on MTV. The show sees former reality TV stars — some from other MTV shows, some from other networks’ shows — compete against one another in various physical and mental challenges. It’s been on the air for more than 25 years and has aired more than 500 episodes across nearly 40 seasons. 

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