Comcast Network (formerly known as CN8) is an Americancabletelevision network that is owned by the Comcast Corporation, through NBCUniversal; it is carried mostly on Comcast cable systems in four states and 20 television markets in the Eastern U.S. from New Jersey to Virginia. It is channel 99 on the Verizon FiOS Network, but is not available in HD. The main focus of the network is on the Philadelphia area, although the channel attempts to structure its programs as national shows. Key markets include New Jersey, the Pennsylvania cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. Comcast Network, which employs more than 400 people in its footprint, was founded in 1996 as CN8 and now airs more than 90 hours a week of original programming from two to three studios in Philadelphia and Washington. The network's programming and hosts have been recognized by the television industry with more than 370 regional Emmy Award nominations, with a network demographic for people over 40 years of age.
The CN8 brand was discontinued in early 2009, as part of a larger restructuring of the network in order to respond to low ratings as well as closing down in the New England market, where its primary market was Boston. The Philadelphia and Washington feeds have been split into separate networks solely branded as the "Comcast Network," which will henceforth report to sister network Comcast SportsNet.
Comcast Network has recently made the leap from linear television programming to video on demand content. Original programs are available on demand immediately following their live broadcast for viewing any time day or night for up to three days. In addition, special broadcast events are also made available on demand for up to two weeks following their original airtime. In an effort to ramp up its political coverage, Comcast Network offers local political coverage on demand as well. Political viewers have access to Candidates On Demand, the Philadelphia Mayoral Race, Political Conventions, Presidential Debates, and President Gerald Ford’s memorial services, among others.
Comcast Network Sports, a division of NBC Sports, produces and airs more than 200 local, regional and national sports events each year. These broadcasts include collegiate teams in football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse; Varsity GameNight featuring regional high-school football and basketball match-ups and playoffs; professional and amateur sports events including boxing, figure skating, gymnastics, baseball, tennis, rodeo; and other events.
Within the last year, Comcast Network has made a big push to have more of a national presence, including the addition of a flagship studio in the Washington, D.C. market. Located on Capitol Hill, the studio hosts a variety of local and federal government leaders throughout the year. The network hired Robert Traynham as the Washington Bureau Chief for the network. Traynham hosts Roll Call TV with Robert Traynham, CN’s show that focuses on legislative issues throughout the D.C. area. Roll Call is the first show to originate from the network's studio in the nation’s capital.
As the network is regionally-based and on cable-only in order to expand the value of a cable system, Comcast Network is unavailable via the major satellite services, though it has been made available to subscribers of Verizon FIOS on channel 99. However, it is not available in high definition for FIOS subscribers. This causes some consternation in regards to sports rights, as CN's Philadelphia channel is not available on the pay television system for the University of Pennsylvania, which has a satellite-based system and has much of their sports content carried by CN Philadelphia (the same issues exist for sister network Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia).
The network was criticized by local Boston media for forcing the public access broadcaster Brookline Access Television of Brookline, Massachusetts out of their shared space at Comcast's Brookline office and studios and forcing that provider to seek different facilities, to allow Comcast full use of the studio for CN8's New England operations until their discontinuation in 2009.