In 1983, Glenn D. Daniels launched CMT, a television channel targeting fans of CountryMusic. 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 SpikeTV.

CMT began with a programming line consisting mainly of country music videos, but under the ownership of Viacom, it has [[NetworkDecay changed focus]] much like {{MTV}}, albeit to a lesser degree. While many of the initial non-video programs were logical choices (reruns of ''HeeHaw'' and ''Series/TheDukesOfHazzard'', plus a country-themed revival of ''TheSingingBee''), the network has moved further and further away from its country roots with programs such as ''Series/ExtremeMakeoverHomeEdition'', ''Series/AreYouSmarterThanAFifthGrader'', ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'', 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 Music/KidRock each June.

CMT also maintains a sister channel, CMT Pure Country (formerly known as Creator/VH1 Country), which is still primarily dedicated to music videos. Rival network Great American Country is also more video-focused.