Before having cable, I got my videos fix by staying up late to watch NBC's "Friday Night Videos." This show was created in the wake of MTV's popularity after MTV's launch in August 1981 and was a way for people without cable to watch music videos. But as MTV scaled back on videos, so did "Friday Night Videos," changing the name to "Friday Night," moving away from an all-video format. In early 2001, the music and video segments were discontinued and the show now titled "Late Friday," focused on stand-up comedy. This lasted until the summer of 2002, when the show was canceled for good, allowing "Last Call with Carson Daly" to expand to five nights a week.
Below is the intro to "Friday Night Videos" from 1985:
I don't have cable now, but I have noticed that many cable channels have strayed away from their original formats. TV Land, for instance, now has original programming and shows movies, straying away from the "classic TV" moniker they began with almost 15 years ago. MTV's sister stations MTV2 and VH1 (the adult contemporary counterpart launched in 1985) have similarly strayed away from showing music videos.
I still have the TV Guide from August 4, 2001, which covered MTV's first 20 years. Next year will be MTV's 30th anniversary--how will it be reflected? And why was there no 20-year celebration for VH1 in 2005 or a 25-year celebration this year? MTV2 will be 15 next year; originally called M2, it was launched on August 1, 1996, on MTV's 15th anniversary.
While MTV may have popularized music videos in the 1980s, the history of music videos goes back to the 1960s. The Beatles' films "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help" are often considered precursors to music videos. A device called a Scopitone was a music video forerunner, filming various performing acts in the 1960s. A promotional clip for Bob Dylan's '60s hit "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is also considered a precursor to modern music videos.
It seems that only place to see music videos today is on You Tube or on DVD compilations by artists.