The English-language research tradition of studying media events is widely considered to have started with Dayan and Katz’ Media Events. This seminal work is characterised by an emphasis on liveness and broadcast technology as conditions of eventfulness. The German-language tradition of research on historical media events provides a very different approach to studying media events, starting from the 16th-century advent of mechanical production and distribution. Bringing together these strands of research, the article argues for a deepening of the historical dimension in conceiving of media events. After a critical review of the English-language tradition and an overview of key media-historical research contributions particularly from Germany, it discusses three main themes: the role of temporal acceleration over time by means of media technologies; the role of premeditation in events and the tradition of discussing media-generated events as ‘pseudo-events’, and the historically shifting relationships between mediated and non-mediated communication in the event. By way of conclusion, the article relates a historical perspective on media events to recent research and discussion around mediatisation.