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Ownership & Conglomeration:
Like most companies in the television industry, VH1 is part of a larger conglomerate with several layers of control. The channel is operated by the MTV Networks group, which also controls interests in digital media, publishing, home video, radio, recorded music, recreation, licensing, and merchandising.[1] As far as its television holdings, MTV Networks controls many popular basic cable channels, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike, Country Music Television, Logo, and TV Land. All told, MTV Networks consists of over 160 channels worldwide.[2] All of these brands are divided into four categories: MTVN Entertainment Group (targeted at males 18-34), MTVN Kids & Family Group (families and kids 2-17), MTVN Music & Logo Group (men and women 18-34), and MTVN International (a combination of the other three). VH1 falls into the “Music & Logo Group,” and is thus aimed primarily at men and women in the 18-34 (or even 18-49) age bracket.[3]
MTV Networks--and therefore VH1-- is owned by Viacom, a major publicly-traded international media conglomerate based in New York City. Viacom focuses mostly on television and film, and in addition to all of the brands that fall under the MTV Networks umbrella, Viacom also controls BET, Paramount Pictures Corporation, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. Within the Viacom Corporation VH1 is designed to be “Where music and pop culture live and breathe” .[4]

Partnerships and Initiatives:
VH1 also has specific partnerships designed to increase its profile and popularity. One of the most recent partnerships is the one formed this year (2010) between MTV Networks and Warner Music Group. According to the partnership agreement, “MTV Music Group will now have the exclusive right to sell advertising inventory around WMG premium music video content in the U.S.”[5] This means that, for example, VH1 will get advertising space around Warner Music Group’s videos, and that artists under contract to WMG will be featured on VH1 shows like Behind the Music.
Perhaps one of VH1’s most well-known initiatives is the “Save the Music Foundation.” Created in 1997, the goal of Save the Music is to restore “instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and [to raise] awareness about the importance of music as part of a child’s complete education.”[6] The foundation has donated $45 million dollars in musical instruments to elementary and middle schools across the country and utilizes popular musician “Ambassadors” such as Kelly Clarkson, Jason Mraz, and Beyoncé to raise awareness of its cause.[7]

Production, Distribution, & Transmission:
When it comes to production, VH1’s material is sourced from a combination of internal and external agencies, although in the past few years more and more programming has been produced by outside agencies. VH1 Television, VH1’s in-house production and distribution wing, has produced shows like “Famous Crime Scene,” “Confessions of a Teen Idol,” and “New York Goes to Hollywood.”[8] But more famous shows such as “Rock of Love,” “Ray J,” “I Love New York,” “The Surreal Life,” and “Flavor of Love” are all produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, a Los Angeles based production company that has an exclusive agreement with VH1 to create original programming.[9]
VH1 does, however, serve as the distributor for most of its own programming through VH1 Television.[10] Many of the shows produced by outside agencies, for example, are distributed by VH1 itself. Thus “Flavor of Love,” produced by 51 Minds, is distributed by VH1. Occasionally, though, VH1 turns to outside distribution agencies to gain access to other markets: this year when channel called on Passion Distribution, a London based firm, to handle foreign distribution of the show “Dad Camp.”[11]
VH1 is transmitted through many cable and satellite services as part of a basic package. Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two large American cable corporations, both offer VH1 as part of their basic cable lineup.[12] Verizon Fios, a fiber-optic-based transmitter, also provides access to VH1 as part of its “Tier 1 Prime HD” service.[13] DIRECTV, a satellite provider owned by Verizon, offers VH1 in its “Choice” (i.e. most basic) package.[14] VH1 can also be found in DISH Network’s “America’s Top 120” package, the company’s cheapest deal.[15]


As the sister channel of MTV—a music television channel with a younger demographic—VH1 was designed for the same purpose, however, for an older audience. Thus, this explains VH1’s retro, 1970’s themed logo. VH1’s “Gen Mix: The Consumer Report” investigates the factors that influence young adults’ consumption habits. VH1 defines “Gen Mix” as those in between Millenials and Gen Xers or in other words, between ages 24 and 34. The report analyzes the shopping habits of Gen Mixers, their engagement in social networks and digital media, as well as the impact of celebrities and television advertising on their consumption patterns. VH1 takes each factor into consideration in the development of program content. For example, a 2009 report states:

“Gen Mixers love to hear about celebrity mistakes because it helps validate their own mistakes, causing them to feel better about themselves. This is why reality, celebrity TV is still so popular among Gen Mixers.”[16]

Signature Programming:

Both MTV and VH1 originally played music videos, where MTV targeted a younger audience and VH1 targeted an older audience when it was created in 1985. Later on, in the 1990’s, VH1 attempted to broaden its demographic through the incorporation of rock and hip-hop music into its programming in hopes of attracting a younger audience. In the 2000’s, VH1 aimed for a “pop culture nostalgic” theme and created programming like the I Love the…(Decades), The Greatest…, and 40 Most Awesomely Bad… series. At this time, VH1 dropped its “Music First” slogan and replaced it with “Watch and Discuss,” which conveys the shift in focus away from music. In 2005, VH1 introduced Celebreality shows, which has maintained predominance as VH1’s programming genre to this day.[17] It is to no surprise that Celebreality shows constitutes VH1’s signature programming given that Gen Mixers appreciate the imperfections of celebrities, which—according to Bryan Curtis, a journalist for Slate Magazine—are exemplified by the “has-beens” and “nobodies” in The Surreal Life, and those undergoing emotional breakdowns and weight issues in Breaking Bonaduce and Celebrity Fit Club.[18]

Branding and Advertising Strategies:

VH1 seeks to publicize its name in as many ways possible and thus, employs multiple digital platforms to interact with viewers. By self-promoting through mobile phones, television, and the Internet as well as partnering with various media companies including Microsoft, AOL, Virgin Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, VH1 gains greater access to its audience. VH1’s marketing in online social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and foursquare is an example of how VH1 gains both access and the ability to interact with its audience. VH1 also has departments of Wireless Strategy and Operations and Online Games and Operations that are responsible fordeveloping strategies of establishing connections with its viewers. For example, the Vice President of Online Games Strategy and Operations—Dan Hart—is responsible for creating video game multimedia and online games for MTV Network.[19]

Not only does VH1 interact with its audience on television and online, it also reaches its audience through applications and a ringtone service on mobile phones. Giselle Tsirulnik—a reporter for The Mobile Marketer—discusses her interview with John Burry—a CEO of Mobui—in her article “VH1 unites television with mobile.” According to Burry:

"Going mobile is the next step in VH1's 'Watch And Discuss' initiative, enabling their viewers to get even closer and interact with the VH1 brand in more places and with fewer boundaries."[20]

VH1 also engages in a type of branding called “cause branding.” In the article “Cause Branding and Its Impact on Corporate Reputation” by Barkley Evergreen & Partners, cause branding is defined as a:

“365-day-a-year association with a cause via internal and external programs. In the purest form a brand brings its core values to life by supporting a cause or nonprofit partner that embodies those same values. It is a true branding endeavor to align a cause and a brand’s support of that cause in the consumers mind.”[21]

VH1 demonstrates such cause branding through the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The two missions of VH1 Save The Music Foundation is to:

          1. “restore instrumental music education in America’s public schools.”[22]

          2. “Raise awareness about the importance of music as a part of a child’s education.”[23]

VH1 identifies with Evergreen’s definition of cause branding because it has been associated with and working with Save the Music 365-days-a-year since 1997.

VH1 is very established digitally. Alongside their website, they have a series of blogs and websites for popular shows, like and others (this site no longer exists due to the season’s end). They have blogs and forums running currently, for avid music and television fans to discuss issues and interests online.[24]  Besides these websites and blogs, VH1 also has a page on Facebook and also several Twitter accounts for its sister channels as well Eg: VH1 Soul.[25] VH1’s presence in all forms of entertainment makes them well known to the American public.

Top VH1 programs: (not in any particular order, just divided into subgroups)

Flavor of Love – featured Flava Flav: Public Enemy rap star, looking for love. It was like ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ with a little flavor. (2006-2008; 3 seasons)
Celebrity Rehab
Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch
Rock of Love

I Want to Work For Diddy (2008-2009)
Celebrity Fit Club
For the Love of Ray J
- VH1’s biggest hit in 2009

Don’t Forget the Lyrics – new on VH1
Top 20 Countdown
Jump Start – Series of Music videos shown late at night and early in the morning
VH1 also has its Tribute shows that are very popular: Hip Hop Honors and Rock Honors Others/Documentaries[28]
Behind the Music – This is VH1’s claim to fame. It shows the true lives of popular musicians
Saturday Night Live
100 Most Shocking Music Moments

Related Channels:
VH1 Classic-sister channel to VH1 and appeals to audiences over the age of 35[29]
VH1 Soul- sister channel to VH1 and appeals to audiences over the age of 35[30] 
VH1 Uno – This is the Spanish channel of VH1. Plays hits from very popular Latino artists[31]
VH1 also have other sister channels worldwide. Eg: VH1 Europe, VH1 Brazil etc.

In the past, VH1 was known to cater to audience of 20-35. They were called ‘The MTV for Old people.’ They usually showed more musicians like Anita Baker, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Tina Turner, Kenny G etc. It was labeled a more urban version of MTV as they played more jazz and R&B. Later on, they switched up their style and became more rock oriented, playing music from Sheryl Crow, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson They switched their style as they refocused on popular culture music that appealed to all kinds of people. Hence this seemed to sway from Pop music, to Hip Hop and now Reality shows.

  1. Viacom official website. “Our Brands: MTV Networks.” <>(accessed10/3/2010.)
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Viacom Official Website. “Our Brands: MTV Networks: VH1.”>(accessed 10/3/2010)fckLR Viacom Pulse. 8.05.10, p. 3. http://phx.corporate
  5. Viacom Pulse. 8.05.10, p. 3.>(accessed 9/30/2010.
  6. VH1 Save the Music Foundation official website>(accessed 10/6/2010).
  7. Ibid.
  8. IMDB. “VH1 Television.” <>(accessed 10/6/2010).fckLR 51 Minds official website. “About Us”>10/6/2010.
  9. 51 Minds official website. “About Us”>(accessed 10/6/2010).
  10. IMDB. “VH1 Television.”
  11. Passion Distribution official website. “Contact Passion Distribution;”>;“VH1 Chooses the Passion Camp For International Distribution & Format Rights For New Reality Series.”>(acessed 10/7/2010).
  12. Comcast official website. “Channel Lineup.”>;Time Warner Cable official website. “Channel Lineups.”>(accessed10/7/2010).
  13. Verizon Fios official website. “See Full Channel list in your area.”>(acessed 10/7/2010).
  14. Directv official website. “DIRECTV Service.”>(accessed 10/7/2010).
  15. DISH Network official website. “DISH Network English Packages: America’s Top 120.”>(accessed 10/7/2010).
  16. Macala Wright, "VH1 Consumer Insights: The GEN MIX Report," Fashionably Marketing.Me, entry posted March 24, 2010, (accessed October 4, 2010).
  17. "VH1." Wikipedia. (accessed October 4, 2010).
  18. Curtis, Bryan. "VH1: The Surreal Network." Slate. (accessed October 4, 2010).
  19. "MTV Digital Music & Media Group Best in Class Team of Digital & Content Leaders." Audio Courses. (accessed October 4, 2010).
  20. Tsirulnik, Giselle. "VH1 unites television with mobile." Mobile Marketer. (accessed October 4, 2010).
  21. Evergreen, Barkley. "Cause Branding and Its Impact on Corporate Reputation." Brand Channel. (accessed October 3, 2010).
  22. "VH1 Save The Music Foundation." VH1 Save The Music. (accessed October 3, 2010).
  23. Ibid.
  24. Becker, Anne. "VH1 Hits a New High Note." Broadcasting & Cable. (accessed October 6, 2010).
  25. "Vh1 Soul." Twitter. (accessed October 7, 2010).
  26. "VH1 Shows." VH1. (accessed October 6, 2010).
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. "VH1 Uno Main." VH1. (accessed October 6, 2010).