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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Death Of VH1 Classic

Back in 2000, a new channel dedicated to music aficionados like me debuted for some lucky enough to have digital cable at that time. That channel was VH1 Classic, simply a network that played the classic music videos that I had grown up with. And besides some on-air bumpers, there were no commercials at all. I wasn't fortunate to have digital cable in 2000, so you can imagine my glory when I went to my buddies houses for the weekend. I would get to my friends' houses on Friday night for a fun time drinking and looking to dance with girls in Long Island or Philadelphia. But on Saturday throughout the day while killing time until another fun night of drinking and partying, my brother and I sat glued to the television watching music videos that we hadn't seen in years. While the rest of the guys wanted to get out of the house and do something, Scott and I were perfectly fine staying inside and reliving our childhood through this channel. There was a Metal Mania hour, a classic rock hour, an 80's hour, even a request hour for the more obscure videos. Mind you that this was all before Youtube which would give us instant access to any music video that we wanted to see. VH1 Classic was what MTV used to be when I younger, only better due to lack to advertisements. When my brother and I moved out to a place of our own and Cablevision finally added the digital cable service, we bought in simply because we needed our fill of classic videos from Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, GTR, A Flock Of Seagulls, and many more. But we should have enjoyed the channel as much as we could because soon enough things would begin to fall apart.

By 2002, VH1 Classic began running advertisements only for music-related shows on VH1, and soon enough there were solid blocks of commercials featuring laundry detergents and fast food restaurant chains. And the downward spiral continued as the more obscure videos were replaced with the more popular videos from Madonna and Bruce Springsteen. The request hour which had introduced me to some obscure 80's classics suddenly vanished. A new hour of programming played a retro video and the current video of legendary rock bands began including some artists who I wouldn't even consider retro. And then all of the leftover reruns from VH1 of Behind The Music, Pop-Up Video, and Storytellers were on every half hour just like what was happening on VH1. And then the Two For Tuesdays in which there were blocks of videos from the same artist stopped. Soon enough, instead of 24 hours of fresh random videos, the programming was broken down into one six hour block of videos that repeated four times a day. All of a sudden, the channel was reairing every single VH1 Award show and documentaries about the greatest albums ever recorded. Now it's all the same bullshit documentaries, outdated Pop-Up Videos, edited movies about rock & roll, and that damn Jackson Family movie that has earned Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Boom Boom from Welcome Back Kotter) a lot of royalties. And soon enough the whole prestige of the channel died so I just lost interest. Even although there was Youtube only a click away, I still loved to see the random selection of videos on my television screen. Now I only watch the channel for the metal mania block of old school hair metal and hard rock videos, and the original program That Metal Show which pays homage to my favorite genre of music.

Why did this happen? I'll tell you why this happened. Because they couldn't just leave a good thing alone. When the channel began to make an impact, VH1 figured they could add revenue by selling airtime to advertisers. Also, the programming department at VH1 which includes number crunchers who know nothing about music just got lazy. Why pay top dollar for new documentaries and commercial-free blocks of retro videos when they can make VH1 a channel featuring reality shows about B/C List celebrities and dump the old outdated VH1 programs and 80's movies that played over and over again on the Classic Network. The stuff is classic, so it made sense to just run the programs over and over again just on a different channel for those who never saw them when they originally ran six or seven years ago. Instead of running these same programs ten times a day, can't they just go back to airing the videos? Fuck, I'll even deal with a few commercials. It seems that this channel does well with their hard rock programming. Why not make it VH1 Metal and just show hard rock videos, new metal documentaries, That Metal Show episodes, and other original programs geared toward the metal fan? Why all the fucking red tape?

VH1 Classic quickly went from being one of the most innovative and greatest networks on my cable box to just another piece of shit channel that serves no real purpose anymore. Oh well!

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