MTV, also known as Music Television, was launched on August 1, 1981, in the United States. The channel initially played a variety of music genres, including rock, pop, and R&B. However, it is often noted that MTV's early programming consisted primarily of rock music videos.
One reason why MTV played rock music in the beginning was due to the popularity of the genre at the time. Rock music had gained a massive following in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with bands like Van Halen, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin dominating the music charts. MTV wanted to tap into this popularity by showcasing rock music videos on their channel.
Another reason for MTV's focus on rock music in the early days was due to the availability of music videos. At the time, music videos were a relatively new medium, and many record labels were hesitant to invest in them. However, some rock bands, such as The Buggles and Queen, had already created music videos, making them perfect candidates for MTV's programming.
Additionally, MTV's target audience in the early days was young adults, particularly those in the 18-34 age group. Rock music appealed to this demographic, who were looking for rebellious and energetic music that reflected their youthful spirit. As such, MTV played rock music videos to attract and retain this audience.
MTV's focus on rock music in the early days was not without controversy. Some critics accused the channel of catering to white audiences and neglecting other genres, such as R&B and hip-hop. However, MTV gradually expanded its programming to include other music genres, particularly after the success of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video, which became a cultural phenomenon and helped break down racial barriers on the channel.
In conclusion, MTV played rock music in the beginning due to the genre's popularity, availability of music videos, and appeal to their target audience of young adults. While MTV's focus on rock music was not without criticism, the channel eventually expanded its programming to include other music genres.