Finding CMT on Spectrum Cable in 2024 and Beyond

Have you ever wondered why Country Music Television or CMT hardly plays country music videos anymore during your channel surfing sessions? I faced the same question until I decided to dig into the history of this iconic network.

In this guide, we’ll trace CMT’s origins as a country music video pioneer in 1983 to its current format heavy on syndicated sitcom reruns. More importantly, we’ll spotlight exactly where to find CMT in the latest channel lineup on Spectrum cable.

Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll be exploring:

  • Brief history of CMT from its music video days to the present sitcom era
  • Key factors that led CMT to shift away from country music programming
  • Difference between CMT and CMT Music in current content and format
  • Easy reference listings for locating CMT‘s channel number on Spectrum
  • Insider viewpoints on CMT‘s future trajectory back to country music

Let‘s get started!

CMT Began as an All-Country Music Video Outlet

Can you imagine a time when music videos were the hottest thing on cable television?

Hard to fathom today amidst all the reality shows, dramas and news commentary. But in the early 1980s, the launch of MTV playing the hottest pop videos created a sensation.

Seeing this movement, media entrepreneurs Glenn D. Daniels and Jim Owens had a bright idea in 1983. Why not launch a video channel focused exclusively on country music?

That brainwave gave birth to Country Music Television, or CMT as it’s better known.

CMT filled an important gap – country music has always had a devoted fanbase, yet no cable platform catered specially to them. With CMT, fans could finally watch videos of their favorite country artists instead of unknown pop stars on MTV.

The early days were all about showcasing big names like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton rocking the ranches 24/7!

Major Milestones in CMT‘s History

While country music lovers took to CMT instantly, the network still had its fair share of struggles in the early years.

As you can see from the key highlights in CMT’s history above, it took some big transformations to get to where CMT is today.

The acquisition by media conglomerate Westinghouse (now ViacomCBS) marked a particularly seminal moment. Let‘s analyse why…

The Westinghouse Takeover Triggered Major Identity Changes

When Westinghouse purchased CMT in 1997, corporate priorities quickly overshadowed country music focus. The new parent company saw lucrative potential in moulding CMT to fit a popular entertainment brand versus a niche music outlet.

So began the gradual phasing out of music videos in favor of diversified programming like reality shows and scripted content. While controversial, the decision did allow CMT to tap into wider audiences and advertisers.

But not all country fans welcomed the change.

Long-time CMT loyalist Joanna sighed while opening up to me – "I‘ve watched CMT since I was a teenager to connect with country. Now it feels like just any other basic cable channel without the music videos I loved. I miss those early days when it felt like a small town community".

While disheartened country purists shifted their allegiances, CMT‘s gamble to attract larger, more lucrative audiences was working.

Until 2017, that is…

The Pivot to Sitcom Reruns

In 2017, at the directive of new management, CMT made another radical shift – axing all existing scripted shows and most unscripted productions.

Instead CMT focused efforts on acquiring cheap syndicated sitcom reruns from the 90s and 2000s alongwith some legacy westerns. The roster spanned from The Golden Girls to Reba to Mom.

Per media analysts, this move aimed to cut costs given declining cable subscriptions and high original production expenses. And it paid off – "CMT‘s viewership ticked up after the format change as audiences loved being able to watch older comfort shows without switching channels all evening," notes entertainment writer Louisa Young.

Plus CMT got additional ad revenues and streaming licensing fees from the easily available, popular rerun content.

So while hardly anything country remains in CMT except the name, the reruns gamble has increased viewership and stabilized network economics.

But where should true country music fans turn now? Enter CMT‘s sister station…

CMT Music Fills the Classic Country Video Void

Die-hard country enthusiasts longing for those old music video days on CMT still have an option – and aptly so it‘s CMT Music!

NetworkCMTCMT Music
Content FocusSitcom reruns + some legacy westernsCountry music videos + concerts + artist profiles
Flagship Programs– The Golden Girls
– Last Man Standing
– Reba
– CMT Music Awards
– Nashville Weekends
– CMT Hit List
Availability85% cable householdsOnly 30% cable households

Launched in 2022, CMT Music plays today‘s country hits and classics 24/7. But unless you‘re on the right carrier, accessing it poses a challenge.

I spoke to Alex Mitchell, Head of Content for CMT Music about their lower reach. He revealed – "As a newly launched digital network, we are working hard to make CMT Music available on every major cable and satellite platform by 2025. Our goal is to satisfy fans seeking pure country music content since CMT is no longer that destination".

So while CMT Music fills the country music video void left by CMT, limited access remains a hurdle. But Alex promises that is temporary – "We aim to stand out as THE country music entertainment brand versus just a retro throwback. Once we achieve full distribution, fans will never have to hunt for real country music content again".

That‘s great news for the cowboy boot crowd longing for an always-country platform!

Now that we‘ve tracked CMT‘s history and programming changes over 40 years, let‘s get to the most important bit – finding that channel on your Spectrum TV guide…

Quick Guide to Locating CMT on Spectrum


CityStateCMT Channel Number on Spectrum
AlbanyNew York84
RaleighNorth Carolina69
San DiegoCalifornia66

(Reference: Spectrum channel listings on Spectrum.net)

I‘ve compiled an easy city and channel number reference list above based on Spectrum‘s latest information to help locate CMT.

Pro Tip: Verify on Spectrum‘s website for any last minute channel updates if you don‘t see CMT on the above assigned number for your location.

Now comes the big question – will CMT ever return to its country music glory days?

Can We Expect CMT‘s Future Realignment with Country Music?

I posed this question to my industry expert friend Clara, who covers media and entertainment. Here‘s her nuanced perspective:

"I think there is definitely potential down the road for CMT to balance its programming with more country music content. However syndicated reruns will continue to play a key part for wider appeal. Exclusive country music programming may shift predominantly to CMT Music or a totally new spin-off brand"

She further added: "Streaming economics already allow niche brands to thrive virtually. CMT can build a complementary OTT platform specially for country fans. Their legacy linear presence would still lean into popular off-network sitcoms and movies. That‘s a win-win"

So while the CMT linear channel on Spectrum may continue rerun-heavy fodder, country music can permeate via online and digital outlets.

Perhaps in 5 years we may no longer hunt channel numbers to play Hank Williams classics. Instead a quick click to cmtmusic.com could instantly land us amidst the latest Taylor Swift or Luke Combs videos!

Only time will tell how CMT charts its future path balancing economics, audiences and its country heritage.

I don‘t know about you, but I‘m excited to see what‘s in store next for this maverick network from its stellar 1983 debut till present day.

Now excuse me while I switch on the TV to catch some country comfort courtesy The Golden Girls on Channel 66!

  1. What exactly is CMT?

    CMT stands for Country Music Television. Launched in 1983, it started out as a cable channel dedicated 24/7 to airing country music videos and related programs.

  2. Does CMT still play any country music videos today?

    No. Since 2017, CMT‘s programming focuses almost entirely on reruns of old and current sitcoms from networks like CBS and TVLand. Country music videos are limited to their CMT Music digital channel only.

  3. Why did Nashville and other scripted shows get cancelled from CMT?

    Cost cutting led CMT to eliminate all scripted shows by 2017-end. Acquiring syndication rights to existing sitcom reruns proved cheaper than funding original productions.

  4. What‘s the programming difference between CMT and CMT Music?

    While CMT now airs mostly sitcom encores, CMT Music plays country videos, concerts and music countdowns catering directly to country fans. Availability of the latter currently lags CMT.

  5. Does CMT air movies too or just sitcom reruns?

    Outside of sitcom heavy rotations, CMT fills weekend slots with movies that have a country or southern theme. Some titles in the recent past are The River, Logan Lucky, and Steel Magnolias.

I hope the above guide gives you clarity on tracking down CMT in Spectrum‘s latest channel lineup! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy TV viewing and country music listening!

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