SportsChannel is the collective name for a former group of regional sports networks in the United States that was owned by Cablevision, which from 1988 until the group's demise, operated it as a joint venture with NBC.
Operating from March 1, 1979 to January 27, 1998, it was the country's first regional sports network, and along with Prime Network, was an important ancestor to many of the regional sports outlets in the U.S., particularly Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet. At its peak, SportsChannel operated nine networks serving several of the nation's largest cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
SportsChannel logo from 1995 to 2000.
(New York Tri-State area; as Cablevision Sports 3)
March 1, 1979
(launch of SportsChannel brand)
|Owned by||Cablevision (1979–1998)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
(available in select regions)
|Headquarters||New York City|
|Replaced by||Fox Sports Networks|
|Sister channel(s)||Prime Network|
SportsChannel's origins date back to 1976, when Cablevision launched Cablevision Sports 3 (the "3" referencing its original channel slot on the provider), a sports network carried on the company's New York City area system. The network originated the SportsChannel brand on March 1, 1979, when it changed its name to SportsChannel New York. The network carried games from several New York area sports teams including the New York Yankees and New York Mets Major League Baseball franchises and the NBA's New Jersey Nets. One of the notable accomplishments from the channel's early days was inking one of the earliest cable deals with a pro sports team when they signed a contract to broadcast games on cable for the National Hockey League's New York Islanders in 1978 while still known as Sports 3.
The network expanded to other regions with the launches and purchases of additional networks throughout the 1980s; the first expansion occurred through Cablevision subsidiary Rainbow Media's purchase of Boston-based PRISM New England in 1983, relaunching the network as SportsChannel New England. The following year, Rainbow purchased Sportsvision, a Chicago-based pay television network founded by Chicago White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf (also owner of the Chicago Bulls) and Eddie Einhorn, and media entrepreneur Fred Eychaner; that network subsequently relaunched as SportsChannel Chicago. Rainbow later launched SportsChannel networks in Florida, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia between 1987 and 1990.
In December 1988, NBC and Cablevision announced that they would form a joint venture to operate their respective cable networks, including SportsChannel. Through this partnership, SportsChannel acquired the regional cable television rights to several National Hockey League teams, while NBC and Cablevision also partnered to carry events from the 1992 Summer Olympics through a pay-per-view service known as the Olympics Triplecast.
In 1990, Rainbow/NBC acquired the San Francisco-based Pacific Sports Network, relaunching it as SportsChannel Bay Area. SportsChannel Los Angeles later ceased operations in 1993 due to financial issues, with all of its sports broadcast contracts being acquired by the competing Prime Ticket. On April 25, 1995, NBC sold its 50% interest in SportsChannel New York to Rainbow Media for US$93 million; NBC cited that "owning a piece of SportsChannel New York made less sense" after Cablevision and ITT purchased competing regional sports network, MSG.
On June 30, 1997, Fox/Liberty Networks, a joint venture between News Corporation and Liberty Media, purchased a 40% interest in Cablevision's sports properties including the SportsChannel networks, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers. Through the deal, the SportsChannel networks would be integrated into Fox Sports Net, a group of regional sports networks launched in November 1996 through News Corporation's purchase of Liberty's Prime Network group; SportsChannel New York would also be rebranded as Fox Sports New York, with Cablevision-owned MSG also becoming a separately branded FSN outlet.
National Sports Partners, the venture formed through Cablevision's entry into the News Corporation/Liberty partnership to operate the existing and newly acquired owned-and-operated regional networks, later announced that it would relaunch the other SportsChannel networks under the "Fox Sports Net" banner. SportsChannel New York was the first to rebrand, as Fox Sports New York, on January 27, 1998. Five of the seven other remaining SportsChannel networks relaunched as member networks of Fox Sports Net later that week.
Two of the SportsChannel networks would not become part of FSN, one of them not immediately. After Comcast acquired a majority stake in Philadelphia-based entertainment company Spectacor to form Comcast Spectacor in 1996 and announced plans to create its own regional sports network, Rainbow Media decided to shut down SportsChannel Philadelphia and sister premium service PRISM on October 1, 1997, with both networks' NBA and NHL contracts with the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers being acquired by the new Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (which replaced SportsChannel Philadelphia on local cable systems). SportsChannel Florida was also unable to join Fox Sports Net at the same time as its sisters as Wayne Huizenga, owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers, owned a 70% controlling interest in the channel (with Rainbow Media as minority partner). Cablevision repurchased Huizenga's share of the network in November 1999, relaunching it as Fox Sports Net Florida on March 1, 2000, formally dissolving the SportsChannel brand two years after the national group effectively ceased operations.
On February 22, 2005, Cablevision acquired News Corporation's ownership interests in Fox Sports Chicago and Fox Sports New York, and a 50% interest in Fox Sports New England (with Comcast retaining its existing 50% stake), in a trade deal in which News Corporation sold its interests in Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and Rangers in exchange for acquiring sole ownership of Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Florida. However, News Corporation and Cablevision retained joint ownership of Fox Sports Bay Area.
Fox Sports Chicago ceased operations in June 2006, after losing the regional cable television rights to local professional teams (including the Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox) two years earlier to the newly launched Comcast SportsNet Chicago. In April 2007, Cablevision sold its interest in the New England and Bay Area networks to Comcast (the San Francisco Giants later acquired part-ownership of the San Francisco-based network in February 2008); both networks became part of Comcast SportsNet, with FSN New England relaunching as Comcast SportsNet New England in July 2007 and FSN Bay Area relaunching as Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in March 2008. Cablevision later rebranded Fox Sports New York as MSG Plus on March 10, 2008.
|Channel||Region served||Year joined/launched||Current owner/status||Notes|
|SportsChannel Chicago||northern Illinois
|1982||defunct||Acquired as SportsVision in 1984 and rebranded in 1989, became the FSN Chicago; network ceased operations in 2006 after losing professional sports contracts to Comcast SportsNet Chicago (now NBC Sports Chicago, owned by NBCUniversal)|
|SportsChannel Cincinnati||southern Ohio
|1989||Fox Sports Ohio, owned by Fox Entertainment Group||replaced with subfeed of Fox Sports Ohio|
|1987||Fox Sports Florida, owned by Fox Entertainment Group||Continued to operate as SportsChannel until 2000|
|SportsChannel Los Angeles||Southern California||1989||defunct||Replaced Z Channel which was acquired a few months before launch|
|SportsChannel New England||Massachusetts
|1983||NBC Sports Boston, owned by NBCUniversal||Acquired as PRISM New England and rebranded in 1983|
|SportsChannel New York||New York
northern New Jersey
|1976||MSG Plus, owned by MSG Networks|
|1989||Fox Sports Ohio, owned by Fox Entertainment Group||The Dolan family later established another Ohio RSN, SportsTime Ohio, which was later acquired by Fox|
|SportsChannel Pacific||northern and central California
parts of southern Oregon
|1990||NBC Sports Bay Area, owned by NBCUniversal||Acquired in 1990 as Pacific Sports Network, and rebranded as SportsChannel Bay Area; rebranded again as SportsChannel Pacific in 1993|
|SportsChannel Philadelphia||southeastern Pennsylvania
southern New Jersey
|1990||defunct; sports contracts acquired by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (now NBC Sports Philadelphia, owned by NBCUniversal)|
SportsChannel America was a national version of SportsChannel that launched in 1988, which was distributed to select cable providers in areas that were not served by a regional SportsChannel network. The network's feature programming was coverage of various National Hockey League games (see below). In 1993, SportsChannel America was replaced by NewSport, a 24-hour sports news channel.
In 1993, Cablevision Systems Corporation, Liberty Media and NBC formed Prime SportsChannels America, a venture in which the companies pooled programming and advertising sales between SportsChannel and Liberty's Prime Network regional sports group. Through this partnership, the two companies formed two national sports-related channels, the sports news service NewSport and American Sports Classics, a network focusing on replays of past sporting events and historical sports documentaries that replaced NewSport in 1997 and operated until 1998.
SportsChannel broadcast several Canadian Football League regular season games produced by SportsChannel Pacific during the 1993 season, later losing the broadcast rights to the upstart ESPN2 (at the time devoted most of programming to extreme sports) through a four-year contract in 1994. The network was also notable for providing live national coverage of NASCAR Busch Grand National races beginning in 1990, as well as coverage of the World Basketball League. SportsChannel Philadelphia carried the ECW Hardcore TV, a syndicated wrestling program of the now-defunct Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion from the program's debut in 1993 until the channel shut down in 1997.
From 1994 to 1997, SportsChannel America also aired NewSport Talk, a two-hour sports talk show produced by SportsChannel Chicago for sister network NewSport, that was syndicated to most of its SportsChannel-branded sister networks.
SportsChannel America obtained the national cable television rights to the National Hockey League from ESPN in 1988; Rainbow Sports was able to secure the rights by offering the NHL a bid of US$51 million ($17 million per year) over three years, more than double what ESPN had paid ($24 million) for its 1985–1988 contract (a move not unlike the 2005 acquisition of NHL rights by Comcast/OLN over ESPN); SportsChannel America obtained a fourth year of the contract for just $5 million in 1992.
One issue that arose with the deal was that SportsChannel America was available only in a few major markets, and reached only one-third of the households that ESPN covered, limiting the national availability of its NHL coverage. In smaller markets, especially those with cable systems whose headends had limited channel capacity, the channel was only made available on a gametime basis as a pay-per-view option, and often limited telecast to only Stanley Cup playoff games. The NHL terminated its deal with SportsChannel America in 1992 and chose to sign a new broadcast deal with ESPN, leaving SportsChannel America with very little sports content outside of outdoor sports shows and Canadian Football League games.
The NHL rights deal proved for a disaster for SportsChannel, as even though it helped the national channel expand its coverage to 20 million homes within the first three years, Rainbow Sports lost as much as $10 million on the agreement, and SportsChannel America soon faded into obscurity. Some regional SportsChannel networks – which carried NHL games in their local markets – were not affected by the national network's loss of league rights.
FSN Chicago was an American regional sports network that was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and was owned by Cablevision for most of its history (from 1987 to 2005). News Corporation acquired a minority ownership interest in the network in 1997, which Cablevision bought out in 2005. The network was affiliated with SportsChannel from 1987 to 1997, when it became an affiliate of Fox Sports Net.
The network carried games from most of the Chicago area's major league sports teams including the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball franchises; the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks; the NBA's Chicago Bulls; the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer; and the Arena Football League's Chicago Rush. The network also aired local and national collegiate sports, including teams sourced from its sister network Fox Sports Detroit.Fox Sports Florida
Fox Sports Florida is an American regional sports network that is owned by The Walt Disney Company, and operates as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. The channel broadcasts local sports coverage in the state of Florida, with a focus on professional sports teams based in Miami, Tampa and Orlando.
Fox Sports Florida maintains production facilities and offices located in Fort Lauderdale, alongside sister network Fox Sports Sun. The channel is available on cable television providers throughout Florida, and in parts of southern Alabama and Georgia; it is also available nationwide on satellite via Dish Network and DirecTV.
On December 14, 2017, as part of a merger between both companies, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire all 22 regional Fox Sports networks from 21st Century Fox, including Fox Sports Florida. However, on June 27, 2018, the Justice Department ordered their divestment under antitrust grounds, citing Disney's ownership of ESPN. It is unknown whether the networks will be divested to other parties, or be retained by the proposed "New Fox" (which will consist of the assets excluded from Disney's purchase, including the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and the remainder of the Fox Sports division).Fox Sports Ohio
Fox Sports Ohio is an American regional sports network that is owned by The Walt Disney Company, and operates as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. The channel broadcasts regional coverage of sports events in the state of Ohio, with a focus on professional sports teams based in Cleveland and Cincinnati, which are broadcast on separate programming feeds, as well as Columbus.
Fox Sports Ohio is available on cable providers throughout Ohio, as well as parts of Indiana, Kentucky, northwestern Pennsylvania, border communities of West Virginia, and extreme southwestern New York; it is also available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network.Hawkvision
Hawkvision was a short-lived subscription TV service founded by Wirtz Corporation and Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz. The service broadcast Chicago Blackhawks games. It operated in conjunction with Chicago's local version of SportsChannel, and access cost $29.95 per month.List of New York Yankees broadcasters
As one of the most successful clubs in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees are also one of its oldest teams. Part of that success derives to its radio and television broadcasts that have been running beginning in 1939 when the first radio transmissions were broadcast from the old stadium, and from 1947 when television broadcasts began. They have been one of the pioneer superstation broadcasts when WPIX became a national superstation in 1978 and were the first American League team to broadcast their games on cable, both first in 1978 and later on in 1979, when Sportschannel NY (now MSG Plus) began broadcasting Yankees games to cable subscribers. Today, the team can be heard and/or seen in its gameday broadcasts during the baseball season on:
TV: YES Network or WPIX channel 11 in New York
Radio: WFAN 660AM and WFAN-FM 101.9 FM in New York; New York Yankees Radio Network; WADO 1280 AM (Spanish) (Cadena Radio Yankees)Longest serving Yankee broadcasters (all-time with 10+ years)
Phil Rizzuto (40 yrs), John Sterling (31 yrs), Mel Allen (30 yrs), Michael Kay (28 yrs), Bobby Murcer (22 yrs), Ken Singleton (23 yrs), Frank Messer (18 yrs), Bill White (18 yrs), Suzyn Waldman (15 yrs), Red Barber (13 yrs), Jim Kaat (13 yrs), Al Trautwig (12 yrs)MSG Plus
MSG Plus (visually branded on-air as MSG+) is an American regional sports network owned by MSG Networks; it operates as a sister channel to MSG Network. The network serves the New York City metropolitan area, whose reach expands to cover the entire state of New York, Northern New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut and Northeastern Pennsylvania; MSG Plus carries sports events from several of the New York area's professional sports franchises, as well as college sports events.NBC Sports Bay Area
NBC Sports Bay Area (sometimes abbreviated as NBCS Bay Area) is an American regional sports network that is owned as a joint venture between NBCUniversal and the San Francisco Giants, and operates as an affiliate of NBC Sports Group. Headquartered in San Francisco, the channel broadcasts regional coverage of professional sports events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. NBCS Bay Area's sister channel is NBC Sports California. The president of the network is Ted Griggs.NBC Sports Boston
NBC Sports Boston is an American regional sports network that is owned by the NBC Sports Group unit of NBCUniversal, and operates as an affiliate of NBC Sports Regional Networks. Headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, the channel broadcasts regional coverage of professional sports events throughout New England with a major focus on Boston area teams, as well as several original analysis, magazine and entertainment programs. It is available on cable providers throughout Massachusetts, eastern and central Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island; it is also available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV.NHL on SportsChannel America
NHL on SportsChannel America was the presentation of National Hockey League broadcasts on the now defunct SportsChannel America cable television network.PRISM (TV network)
PRISM (Philadelphia Regional In-Home Sports and Movies) is a defunct American regional premium cable television channel in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Launched in September 1976, PRISM was primarily distributed through area cable systems, although it was also available through a scrambled over-the-air signal on WWSG-TV (channel 57, now WPSG) from 1983 to 1985.
The channel's programming consisted primarily of theatrically released motion pictures, although it was better known for its telecasts of sporting events, particularly those featuring Philadelphia's Major League Baseball, NHL and NBA sports franchises. Due to broadcasting restrictions imposed by the three major sports leagues, as a cable channel, the network limited its distribution to within 125 miles (201 km) of Philadelphia proper (covering an area extending from west of Harrisburg to as far north as Scranton).Spectrum Sports (Ohio)
Spectrum Sports is a defunct regional sports network serving Ohio and parts of northern Kentucky, southern Michigan and western Pennsylvania operated by Charter Communications through its acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016. Broadcasting on Channel 311 and 1311 exclusively on Time Warner Cable systems.Spectrum Sports (Texas)
Spectrum Sports was a regional sports network serving Texas and owned by Charter Communications through its acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016. It ceased operations in June 2017, with some of its remaining programs migrating to Spectrum News Austin.SportsChannel Cincinnati
SportsChannel Cincinnati is a defunct American regional sports network that was owned by the Rainbow Media division of Cablevision, and operated as an affiliate of SportsChannel. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the channel used to broadcast regional coverage of sports events throughout the Miami Valley, focusing mainly on professional sports teams based in the Cincinnati area.SportsChannel Los Angeles
SportsChannel Los Angeles is a defunct American regional sports network that was owned as a joint venture between the Rainbow Media subsidiary of Cablevision and NBC, and operated as an affiliate of SportsChannel. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the channel broadcast regional coverage of sports events throughout the Southern California, with a focus on Los Angeles-area professional sports teams.SportsChannel Philadelphia
SportsChannel Philadelphia is a defunct American regional sports network that was owned as a joint venture between Rainbow Sports, a unit of the Rainbow Media subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation, and NBC (which both owned 50%), and operated as an affiliate of SportsChannel.
Operating as a sister network of the premium service PRISM and headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, the channel provided regional coverage of sports events involving professional sports teams based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and college and high school sports events throughout the Delaware Valley region.Universal Wrestling Federation (Herb Abrams)
The Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) was an American wrestling promotion based out of Marina del Rey, California.
|Related television networks|