In 1983, Glenn D. Daniels launched CMT, a television channel targeting fans of Country Music. Opryland USA bought the network in 1991, adding it to its roster alongside the similar TNN. By 1993, CMT went international, with a European branch. Viacom bought the two networks in 1997, with TNN eventually changing to Spike TV.

CMT began with a programming line consisting mainly of country music videos, but under the ownership of Viacom, it has changed focus much like MTV, albeit to a lesser degree. While many of the initial non-video programs were logical choices (reruns of Hee Haw and The Dukes of Hazzard, plus a country-themed revival of The Singing Bee), the network has moved further and further away from its country roots with programs such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, Married... with Children, etc. However, they continue to show videos often enough that they maintain a fan-voted video countdown show. They also have their own country music awards show, hosted by Kid Rock each June.

CMT also maintains a sister channel, CMT Pure Country (formerly known as VH-1 Country), which is still primarily dedicated to music videos. Rival network Great American Country is also more video-focused.

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