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"Sportschannel" redirects here. For the generic concept, see sports channel.
SportsChannel logo from 1995 to 1998.
1995 thru 1998 logo
Launched March 1, 1979
Closed January 27, 1998
Owned by Cablevision
Country United States
Language American English
Replaced by Fox Sports Networks
Comcast SportsNet
Sister channel(s) Prime Network
1979 thru 1995 logo

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.[1] 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[edit]

SportsChannel America[edit]

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[edit]

National Hockey League[edit]

SportsChannel America was the American rights holder of the National Hockey League from 19881992. Note: The logo is from 1980–1995.

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.[2] Some local SportsChannel stations – which carried NHL games in their local markets – were not affected.

Prime SportsChannel Networks[edit]

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[edit]

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.


  1. ^ FABRIKANT, GERALDINE. "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; NBC and Cablevision Plan Joint Programming Venture". New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Welcome to the New Jersey Devils forums!". Retrieved 2013-03-28.