Total Request Live (known commonly as TRL) was an American television program broadcast on MTV that premiered on September 14, 1998. The series featured popular music videos played during its countdown, and was also used as a promotion tool by musicians, actors, and other celebrities to promote their newest works to the show’s target teendemographic.
During the original run of the program, TRL played the ten most requested music videos of the day, as voted by viewers via phone or online. The show generally aired Monday through Thursday for one hour, though the scheduling and length of the show fluctuated over the years. Although TRL was billed as a live show, many episodes were actually pre-recorded. Due to declining ratings, and the larger secular decline of music-based television in favor of online services, MTV would announce the cancellation of TRL on September 15, 2008. The special three-hour finale episode, Total Finale Live, aired on November 16, 2008.
Less than a decade later, TRL would be revived on October 2, 2017. In 2019, the show aired Saturday mornings at 10am ET as TRL Top 10. The show was then rebranded to Fresh Out Live.
Total Request Live originated from several pre-existing programs on MTV. Dial MTV, the first video request show on the network, had aired from 1986 to 1996. In 1997, MTV launched two new shows that became the predecessors of TRL: Total Request, a revival of the Dial MTV concept hosted by Carson Daly, and MTV Live, which was hosted by Toby Amies, Daly, and Ananda Lewis and featured live performances and interviews from musical artists.
Total Request was more subdued than MTV Live, as Daly introduced music videos from an empty, dimly lit set. As the show progressed and gained more momentum with viewers tuning in, it was soon added to the list of daytime programming during MTV’s Summer Share in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The countdown would prove to be one of the most watched and most interactive shows in recent MTV history, demonstrating that it had potential to become an even larger success by combining with the element of live television.