|1995 thru 1998 logo|
|Launched||March 1, 1979|
|Closed||January 27, 1998|
|Replaced by||Fox Sports Networks
|Sister channel(s)||Prime Network|
SportsChannel was a group of regional sports networks operated by Cablevision and NBC. It was the country's first regional sports network, and thus (along with Prime Network) an important ancestor to many of the United States' regional sports outlets, especially Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet.
SportsChannel New York was the first of these networks and was launched as Cablevision Sports 3 in 1976. In March of 1979, it was renamed SportsChannel. New networks were added throughout the 1980s. In 1988, NBC and Cablevision merged their cable networks including SportsChannel. This partnership would lead to the acquisition of rights to the National Hockey League and the 1992 Summer Olympics (see Olympics Triplecast).
At its peak, SportsChannel had nine networks serving some of the nation's largest cities. Cablevision later partnered with Fox and Liberty Media to merge the network into Fox Sports Net in early 1998.
Former SportsChannel Networks
- SportsChannel New York (1976, now MSG+)
- SportsChannel New England (acquired as PRISM New England and rebranded in 1983, now CSN New England)
- SportsChannel Chicago (acquired as SportsVision in 1984 and rebranded in 1989, became the now defunct FSN Chicago and later replaced by Comcast SportsNet Chicago)
- SportsChannel Florida (1987, now Fox Sports Florida)
- SportsChannel Los Angeles (1989, now defunct)
- SportsChannel Ohio (1989, now Fox Sports Ohio)
- SportsChannel Cincinnati (1989, replaced with Fox Sports Ohio subfeed)
- SportsChannel Bay Area/Pacific (1990, now CSN Bay Area)
- SportsChannel Philadelphia (1990, defunct, replaced by CSN Philadelphia)
SportsChannel America was a national version of SportsChannel as was carried by some cable providers in areas without a regional SportsChannel network. It launched in 1988 and its feature programming was the National Hockey League (see below). In 1993, SportsChannel America was replaced by NewSport, a 24-hour sports new channel. Finally in 1997, NewSport was replaced American Sports Classics, before the channel was discontinued in 1998.
Notable SportsChannel programming
- Canadian Football League
- Extreme Championship Wrestling
- National Hockey League
- NewSport Talk - A two-hour sports talk show produced by the Chicago-based SportsChannel and syndicated to most of the other ones. It was an original show on NewSport.
- World Basketball League
- NASCAR Busch Grand National races
National Hockey League
The network obtained the National Hockey League rights from ESPN in 1988 by offering the NHL almost triple the amount of money that ESPN was offering (a move not unlike the 2005 NHL rights grab by Comcast/OLN over ESPN). SportsChannel America was only in a few major markets, and reached only one-third of the households that ESPN did. In smaller markets, especially those with limited system capacity, the channel was only made available on a gametime basis as a pay-per-view-only option, and often limited to only the NHL playoffs. After 4 seasons, the NHL ended the deal and went back to ESPN, leaving SportsChannel America with little more than outdoors shows and Canadian Football League games. For SportsChannel, the deal was a disaster. While the cable channel three years later was available in 20 million homes, the broadcaster lost as much as $10 million on the agreement, and soon faded into obscurity. Some local SportsChannel stations – which carried NHL games in their local markets – were not affected.
Prime SportsChannel Networks
In 1993, Cablevision and NBC partned with Liberty Media to form Prime SportsChannel Networks combining SportsChannel with Liberty's Prime Network. This partnership would produce NewSport and American Sports Classics.
Fox Sports rebranding
In 1998, Cablevision partnered with Fox Sports and Liberty Media to rebrand most of the SportsChannel America networks as Fox Sports Net stations. The first affiliate to rebrand itself was SportsChannel New York (currently MSG+) when it became Fox Sports New York on January 27, 1998. All other SportsChannel networks except SportsChannel Florida were rebranded later that week. The last affiliate to rebrand itself was SportsChannel Florida, which became Fox Sports Net Florida (now Fox Sports Florida) in March 2000.
- FABRIKANT, GERALDINE. "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; NBC and Cablevision Plan Joint Programming Venture". New York Times.
- "Welcome to the New Jersey Devils forums!". Njdevs.com. Retrieved 2013-03-28.