MTV Rocks (UK & Ireland)
|Launched||10 October 1998|
|Network||MTV (UK & Ireland)|
|Owned by||Viacom International Media Networks Europe|
|Picture format||16:9 (576i, SDTV)|
|Audience share||0.01% (May 2017BARB),|
|Country||United Kingdom and Ireland|
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom and Ireland|
|Formerly called||M2 (1998–02)|
MTV Two (2007–10)
(UK & Ireland)
MTV Rocks (formerly MTV Two, MTV2 and M2) is a British pay television music channel operated by Viacom International Media Networks Europe. Its programming consists of 24-hour non-stop rock/alternative music.
From 9 November 2018 to 3 January 2019, MTV Rocks was temporarily rebranded as VH1 Christmas which played Christmas-themed music until Boxing Day. Unlike MTV Xmas, it also played regular pop/mixed hits from 26 December until 3 January. VH1 Christmas was formerly aired on VH1 from 2017 and was moved to MTV Rocks due to the former now being an entertainment channel.
Format and history
The structure of the MTV Networks is different in Europe from in the US and so the role that MTV Two plays is somewhat different. The various nation MTV channels remain the flagship channels bringing a wide variety of popular music and many different show formats (including documentaries, reality TV, charts, text shows, and countdowns) however digital satellite in the UK has allowed MTV to operate subsidiary channels with their own specialist areas. So while in the US MTV2 was a varied, slightly alternative channel in the past, in Europe MTV Two is dedicated exclusively to alternative rock and indie, with the occasional alternative hip hop song; while other music output carried on MTV Base, MTV Dance, MTV Hits covering urban music (hip hop, rap, R&B and garage), electronic dance music, and chart music respectively.
MTV Rocks initially began as M2 in October 1998: the channel had an interactive feel to it. Here viewers controlled the overall content of M2 in terms of its playlist and channel identity. The channel initially had limited availability only being available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandinavia, France and Spain. In 2002, MTV Networks Europe expanded M2's availability across Europe and decided to rebrand M2 as MTV2 similar to the rebranding on its sister network in the US. The structure of the MTV2 in the United States differed from its European counterpart. MTV2 Europe primarily focused on alternative indie themed shows and music videos, while MTV2 in the US focused on reality TV programming, alternative music videos and alternative hip-hop. The TV station was one of the first media outlets to lead with its website strategy and follow with the TV programming. Viewers could program an hour of television content via the website, designed by Bradley Smith and Mickey Stretton with the agency Digit, it broadcast later that month.
The website won a number of awards including a BAFTA.
In the late 2000s, MTV2 Europe began to air a range of reality programming, but music was still the main focus of the channel. In 2000 the channel developed the first example of 360-degree programming. Viewers could choose an hour's worth of music and idents using the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards winning website, which would then be broadcast usually throughout the night with little or no manipulation by the channel. Viewers would be emailed their transmission time, their selection and the option to forward to friends. It was one of the first 100% Adobe Flash websites).
In September 2002, MTV2 Europe introduced its own on-screen presentation and graphics, and started to use much more original programming, the jewel in the station's crown being Gonzo, hosted by the then MTV UK & Ireland DJ and former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe and regularly featuring interviews with bands along with contributions from members of the MTV2 Internet forums. It was relaunched in 2006, moving from an hour-long format broadcasting every weekday to a single two-hour show on a Friday. The show won the NME Award for Best TV Show in 2006. Unlike other MTV channels available in Europe which have regular commercial breaks, MTV 2 (as it was) ran without any advertising (apart from MTV promotions and idents) for large parts of the day, which was eventually reduced to midnight to 6 pm every day. Commercials shown were mainly for albums, DVDs, films and products that target the channel's main audience. However, from September 2005, MTV2 started to play these commercials during daytime, but still runs without interruptions throughout the night from 1 am.
In 2007, following a rebranding of MTV's channels available in the United Kingdom, MTV2 Europe was briefly rebranded as MTV Two and the presentation was changed as part of MTV's wider efforts to amalgamate the five British MTV channels into a singular brand with a common identity: the new logo is similar to the other channels, with the channel's playlist represented by a South Park-esque character who plays a Flying V guitar.
On 1 March 2010, MTV Two was rebranded as MTV Rocks. The channel now reflects a similar on-air identity as other MTV Networks International's channels. The channel has a similar playlist and schedule as MTV2 Europe for the time being.
On 10 January 2011 MTV Rocks launched in Italy replacing MTV Brand New.
MTV Rocks began broadcasting in widescreen on 6 March 2012.
On 9 November 2018, MTV Rocks temporarily rebranded as VH1 Christmas, taking a slot from sister channel VH1 due to the latter being an entertainment channel, until 4 January 2019.
In 2014, MTV Rocks, as well as MTV Hits and MTV Dance started broadcasting European versions, without commercials or teleshopping and without VH1 Christmas. The channels have a Czech license.
- Biggest! Hottest! Loudest!
- In Rotation
- Hits from the Brits!
- Rock Solid Playlist
- Rock Rated!
- Ultimate Weekend Anthems!
- VH1 Christmas (during Christmas period of each year)
Themed slots used to be a regular feature on the channel, as well as SMS-oriented shows, showing viewers' text messages in an on screen chat forum, and shows like The Takeover where artists like Sonic Youth, Fall Out Boy, The Futureheads as well as former Faith No More lead singer Mike Patton present videos they have chosen from the MTV archives. The majority of the channel's output was made up of back-to-back music videos, with shows such as Beavis and Butthead and Daria aired occasionally.
- M2 Europe:
- Dodger Zone (M2): a nightly music video show hosted by an animated dog.
- M2 Creators: a daily music video show selected by viewers.
- M2 Startracks: a music video shows hosted by artists and bands.
- MTV2 Europe:
- MTV2 Riot: a weekly heavy metal music show
- Text, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll (MTV2): interactive music show where viewers text in their requests.
- 120 Minutes: From early 2005, MTV Rocks started broadcasting the alternative music show every night, instead of its previous timeslot of Saturday nights. The show airs nightly at 1 a.m. and runs without commercials. A 120 Metal Minutes show broadcast on Friday nights until it was cancelled in April 2006.
- Headbanger's Ball timeslot on Tuesday and Saturday evenings.
- Viva La Bam
- Wonder Showzen
- Dirty Sanchez
- MTV Rocks:
- Gonzo: a weekly music magazine show with the best in alternative and indie music videos and interviews hosted by Alexa Chung from 15 October 2010. The show was previously presented by New Zealander MTV VJ Zane Lowe.
- Gonzo Loves...: a music video featuring non-stop alternative and indie music videos.
- Gonzo on Tour: a yearly live music event which tours Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- The Official UK Rock Chart: the official rock chart based on airplay and sales in the United Kingdom hosted by Phil Clifton.
- Newest Noise: the freshest music videos back-to-back.
- The 10 Biggest Tracks Right Now: a selection of the top 10 newest and freshest music videos.
MTV Rocks' on-air identity has been produced by Dutch graphic design team PostPanic. MTV Rocks reflects MTV Networks Internationals on-air and off-air branding. The graphics were commissioned by MTV Networks Internationals design team MTV World Design Studio who have created the original MTV Popx1000 branding.
In recent years, MTV Two has taken Gonzo on different tours of the United Kingdom. Gonzo on Tour has been a regular tour for the past two years, touring various Barfly venues and filming the results for broadcast on the channel. Bands such as The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Goldie Lookin' Chain, Franz Ferdinand, Queens of the Stone Age, Kaiser Chiefs and Maxïmo Park have played in the past, and in 2005 the tour featured bands such as The Rakes, Arctic Monkeys, Editors, and The Subways headlining one venue each, with support from Test Icicles and Be Your Own Pet.
In May 2006 the channel held a series of gigs at Brighton's Great Escape festival, with The Futureheads, The Cribs and Mystery Jets headlining alongside bands such as Metric, The Sunshine Underground and The Fratellis; the gigs were filmed and broadcast a few weeks later alongside interviews and backstage clips.
In November 2006, MTV Two hosted its first Spanking New Music Tour where Fields, Forward Russia and The Maccabees supported headliners Wolfmother, with live footage from the Brixton Academy gig broadcast in a Gonzo special.