|Type||Broadcast television network|
|1965 (its flagship station, WDHO-TV), May 1, 1967 (nationally)|
|Dissolved||June 1, 1967|
The Overmyer Network/United Network was a television network. It was intended to be a fourth national commercial network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who started WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TV, an NBC affiliate), in his birthplace, Toledo, Ohio, which signed on the air on May 3, 1966. In addition Mr. Overmyer sold 80 percent of each construction permit for UHF stations in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Houston to AVC Corporation in March 1967. None of the five stations were operational at the time of the sale. With Mr. Overmyer owning 20 percent of each station, four of the five would later sign on in 1968-69 as part of the U.S. Communications Corporation group of stations. A social conservative ("I'm against smut," he declared), Overmyer began to produce his own programs, and decided to create a nationwide hookup, enticing existing stations with a 50-50 profit split with potential affiliates (something that the established network's affiliates had been trying to get from ABC, CBS and NBC for years). Under the leadership of former ABC television president Oliver Treyz, the ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.
From ON to UN
The network planned to offer eight hours of programming per day, seven days per week, to its affiliate stations. A daily news service, from United Press International, would provide each station with news. Cultural and sports programming, including Tales from the Great Book (an animated Bible series) and regional games of the Continental Football League, were also planned. By July 1966, 35 stations had agreed to affiliate with the new network.
Before the network even went on the air, Overmyer was forced to sell a majority share to investors, although he remained the largest shareholder. In early 1967, Overmyer tried to persuade the Mutual Broadcasting System to engage in a merger of the two networks, as a way to raise more money in the venture. The Mutual board turned thumbs-down on the merger proposal, but three Mutual stockholders formed a separate group with 11 wealthy western businessmen to buy out Overmyer. Rechristened The United Network, which used an upper-case U inside a television screen as the network's logo, the net hit the air on May 1, 1967 with The Las Vegas Show on 106 stations. Hosted by Bill Dana from the Hotel Hacienda in Las Vegas, the two-hour late-night show featured regulars Ann Elder, Pete Barbutti, Danny Meahan, Joanne Worley, Cully Richards and Jack Sheldon.
The network itself, except for a few independent stations in the larger markets, was mostly made up of CBS stations who aired The Las Vegas Show at 11:30 local time, tape delayed from the 11:00 start seen on United-only east coast stations. The network called WPIX in New York City and KHJ-TV in Los Angeles their flagship stations, even though neither was owned by Overmyer/United. Additionally, the WPIX broadcast was often delayed until the weekend due to their commitment to New York Yankees baseball. The network also lacked clearance in some large cities, including San Francisco (which was waiting for KEMO to be approved by the FCC) and Cleveland.
The average viewership for The Las Vegas Show was 2.6 million. Despite the hype, initially good reviews and high-caliber guest stars, the network quickly started to bleed money; the transmission lines leased from the Bell System, which was the main carrier for television network transmissions at the time, proved to be too expensive. Sources close to the network also claimed that the network launch was too close to the end of the traditional broadcast season, when major sponsors were near the end of their advertising budgets. (During the last days of operation, network president Oliver Treyz made an on-air appeal to potential sponsors, pointing out that air time on Las Vegas was a mere $6,000 a minute, barely a third of what NBC was charging for The Tonight Show.) Both show and network disappeared after the June 1 (some sources say June 3 or June 5) broadcast.
A notice was sent to the network's 107 affiliate stations the first week of June. The notice stated:
"The executive committee of our board of directors, instructed me to inform you that with deep regret we are obliged to advise you that the United Network ceased its interconnected program operations as of May 31, 1967.
"Please be advised that the United Network staff has done everything possible in connection without [sic] efforts to plan and launch the Las Vegas program and other United Network endeavors.
"Station co-operation has been magnificent. We are indeed indebted to you for all your help. Regretfully, Oliver Treyz."
At the time of the company's bankruptcy declaration, the United Network had accrued a nearly $700,000 debt.
Overmyer / United affiliates
The Las Vegas Show was cleared in at least 120 markets, including the following:
|WPIX 11||New York||The CW affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
|KHJ-TV 9||Los Angeles||Independent station, KCAL-TV, owned by CBS Corporation|
|WGN-TV 9||Chicago||Independent station owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
|WPHL-TV 17||Philadelphia||MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
|KEMO-TV 20||San Francisco (O&O; did not sign on until 1968)||Independent station, KOFY-TV, owned by Granite Broadcasting Corporation|
|WKBD-TV 50||Detroit||The CW Owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by CBS Corporation|
|WATL 36||Atlanta (O&O; did not sign on until 1969)||MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by Tegna, Inc.|
|KLOC-TV 19||Modesto-Sacramento, California||Univision owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Univision Communications|
|WDHO 24||Toledo, Ohio (O&O; network flagship)||NBC affiliate, WNWO-TV, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|KTNT 11||Seattle-Tacoma, Washington||The CW owned-and-operated station (O&O), KSTW, owned by CBS Corporation|
|KZAZ 11||Tucson, Arizona||Fox affiliate, KMSB, owned by Tegna, Inc. (operated under SSA by Raycom Media)|
|KWGN-TV 2||Denver||The CW affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
- CBS-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: WHDH-Boston (Defunct; replaced by WCVB-TV, an ABC affiliate), WISN-Milwaukee (now an ABC-affiliated station), KAUZ-Wichita Falls, WBAY-Green Bay (Now an ABC affiliate), KOLO-Reno (now an ABC affiliate), KSL-Salt Lake City (now an NBC affiliate), WSEE-Erie, WBEN-TV-Buffalo, WHEC-Rochester (NY) (now an NBC affiliate), WHEN-TV-Syracuse, KXLF-Butte, WSPA-Spartanburg, WDBJ-Roanoke,, WCPO-Cincinnati (now an ABC affiliate), KFDM-Beaumont, KZTV-Corpus Christi, KCMO-Kansas City, WTVR-Richmond (VA), KODE-Joplin (now an ABC affiliate), WAGA-Atlanta (Now a Fox O&O station), WKRG-Mobile, KDAL-Duluth, KENS-TV-San Antonio, WJIM-Lansing, WTAR-Norfolk (VA), WFMY-Greensboro (NC), KAYS-TV Hays (KS), KTVH/KWCH Wichita (KS), KSLA-TV Shreveport, KKTV Colorado Springs, WDBO-TV-Orlando, WHBF-TV Rock Island. WJBK-Detroit (now a Fox O&O) was originally announced as an affiliate, before the affiliation was transferred to independent WKBD-TV.
- NBC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: KPRC-Houston, KOB-Albuquerque, WIIC-Pittsburgh (Currently WPXI-TV) KMTV-Omaha (now a CBS-affiliated station),
- ABC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: WLWI-Indianapolis (now WTHR-TV, an NBC affiliate) WLCY-Tampa (now WTSP, a CBS affiliate), WVUE-New Orleans (now a Fox-affiliated station), WEWS-TV-Cleveland. WAKR-TV-Akron was in negotiations to carry the show, but no deal was made by the time the network ceased operations.
- Known markets that did not air The Las Vegas Show: San Francisco (O&O KEMO-TV did not sign on until 1968), Lincoln, Baton Rouge, Fort Wayne, Columbus (OH), Dayton, Des Moines
- "Broadcasting May 9, 1966 Page 60 and 61" (PDF).
- "Broadcasting April 3, 1967 Page 80" (PDF).
- "Broadcasting August 31, 1970 Page 30" (PDF).
- Mutual Radio Tribute Site: "Mutual Television: The Network That Never Made Air" Archived 2015-05-02 at the Wayback Machine.
- San Mateo Times, 5 Dec 1966
- "New TV Chain Gets Continental League". Fresno Bee. Associated Press. November 23, 1966.
- "The Fourth Steps Forth". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- "Plan Fourth TV Network". Des Moines Register (NYTimes News Service). Des Moines, IA. 1966-07-13. p. 7.
- "Fledgling United Network to Resume Broadcasts", Long Beach Independent (via AP), 3 Jul 1967
- "New late show to debut tonight", Rick Dubrow, Monessen Valley Independent (via UPI), 1 May 1967
- Bridgeport Telegram, 1 May 1967
- "Dana Clarifying Downfall of The Las Vegas Show", Bob Thomas, Nashua Telegraph (via AP), 7 June 1967
- "Late Night Las Vegas Show, Started May 1, Bites Dust". Associated Press (via The Morning Record). Meriden, CT. 1967-06-02. p. 3. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Gysel, Dean (1967-06-04). "Services Held For Infant Network". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Corpus Christi, TX. pp. 18F.
- Bert Reesing's television column, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 19, 1967
- Tucson Daily Citizen, 1 May 1967
- Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. Colorado Springs, CO. 1967-04-29. p. 12. Missing or empty
- Nashua Telegraph, 1 May 1967
- Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 1 May 1967
- Lawton Constitution, 1 May 1967
- Reno Evening Gazette, 1 May 1967
- Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1 May 1967
- Warren (Pa.) Times-Mirror, 1 May 1967
- Syracuse Herald Journal, 1 May 1967
- Kalispell Daily Interlake, 1 May 1967
- Gastonia Gazette, 30 Apr 1967
- Charleston (WV) Sunday Gazette Mail, 30 Apr 1967
- Port Arthur News, 30 Apr 1967
- Petersburg Progress-Index, 20 May 1967
- Northwest Arkansas Times, 20 May 1967
- Anniston Star, 20 May 1967
- Panama City News, 6 June 1967
- Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 1967
- San Antonio Light, 1 May 1967
- Salina Journal. Salina, KS. 1967-04-28. pp. T5–T6. Missing or empty
- Hope Star. Hope, AR. 1967-04-29. p. 4. Missing or empty
- Radio-Info: "Retro: Central Florida Monday, May 15, 1967" (sourced from TV Guide, Central Florida Edition), May 15, 2011.
- Burlington Hawk-Eye. Burlington, IA. 1967-04-28. p. 2A. Missing or empty
- United Network ad in Broadcasting Magazine, April 3, 1967, p.106B-106C
- Victoria Advocate, 30 Apr 1967
- Albuquerque Tribune, 1 May 1967
- Clearfield Progress, 20 May 1967
- Des Moines Register. Des Moines, IA. 1967-04-30. pp. 6–TV. Missing or empty
- Anderson Herald, 20 May 1967
- Evening Independent, 1 May 1967
- Times-Picayune, May 2, 1967,
- Lima News, 1 May 1967