Almost immediately upon the phenomenal success of MTV in the early 1980s, the music-video channel was challenged by a number of competitors, both on cable TV and on the broadcast networks. One of those competitors was Cable Music Channel, a cable channel launched by Ted Turner. CMC was one of the least successful cable channels ever launched, and it stayed on the air for only about a month. It got enough attention, however, to spur MTV to by the channel, and three months later, in January of 1985, MTV filled CMC's old slot with a new music-oriented sister channel that it called VH1.
The channel's name was an shortening of Vide Hits 1, and the aim of the channel was to target an older demographic than that being pursued by MTV. VH1 focused on playing the videos of light rock, pop and R&B artists, but its format, which featured primarily VJs playing short-form music videos, was similar to MTV's.
Like most cable channels that got their start in the 1980s, VH1 has reinvented itself since the turn of the century, and like most cable channels, it now relies heavily on reality programming. If VH1 has a niche of its own, though, it's in music-related documentaries, music-nostalgia programming and celebrity-lifestyle reality series.