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Pittman had test-driven the music format by producing and hosting a 15-minute show, Album Tracks, on New York City television station WNBC-TV in the late 1970s.Pittman's boss Warner-Amex executive vice president John Lack had shepherded Pop Clips, a television series created by former Monkee-turned solo artist Michael Nesmith, whose attention had turned to the music video format in the late 1970s.The Beatles had used music videos to promote their records starting in the mid-1960s.The creative use of music videos within their 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, particularly the performance of the song "Can't Buy Me Love", led MTV later on June 26, 1999, to honor the film's director Richard Lester with an award for "basically inventing the music video".In 1977, Warner Cable a division of Warner Communications and the precursor of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment launched the first two-way interactive cable television system named QUBE in Columbus, Ohio. One of these specialized channels was Sight on Sound, a music channel that featured concert footage and music-oriented television programs.With the interactive QUBE service, viewers could vote for their favorite songs and artists.
MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a concept; Seibert said that they had originally planned to use Neil Armstrong's "One small step" quote, but lawyers said that Armstrong owned his name and likeness and that he had refused, so the quote was replaced with a beeping sound.
In recent years, MTV had struggled with the secular decline of music-related cable media.
Its ratings had been said to be failing systematically, as younger viewers increasingly shift towards digital media, with yearly ratings drops as high as 29%; thus there was doubt of the lasting relevance of MTV towards young audiences.
MTV's lower third graphics that appeared near the beginning and end of music videos would eventually use the recognizable Kabel typeface for about 25 years. Miller is credited as being the first technical director to officially launch MTV from its New York City-based network operations facility.
But these graphics differed on MTV's first day of broadcast; they were set in a different typeface and included information such as the year and record label name. Pittman recruited and managed a team for the launch that included Tom Freston (who succeeded Pittman as CEO of MTV Networks), Fred Seibert, John Sykes, Carolyn Baker (original head of talent and acquisition), Julian Goldberg, Steve Lawrence, Geoff Bolton; studio producers and MTV News writers/associate producers Liz Nealon, Nancy La Pook and Robin Zorn; Steve Casey (creator of the name "MTV" and its first program director), Marcy Brafman, Ronald E. MTV's effect was immediate in areas where the new music video channel was carried.
The original slogans of the channel were "You'll never look at music the same way again", and "On cable.