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.
|Launched||January 1, 1990|
|Closed||September 30, 1997|
|Owned by||Cablevision (50%)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Broadcast area||Philadelphia metropolitan area|
|Headquarters||Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania|
|Replaced by||Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia|
Plans to develop a Philadelphia-based SportsChannel network date back to 1986, when Rainbow Media announced plans to launch a regional sports network that would serve as a companion to the primarily movie-based premium channel PRISM, which would share the regional television rights to games from three of Philadelphia's major professional sports teams, the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL (the rights to the teams' road games were split at the time between independent stations WTAF-TV (channel 29, now Fox owned-and-operated station WTXF-TV), WPHL-TV (channel 17, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate) and WGBS-TV (channel 57, now CW owned-and-operated station WPSG), while PRISM carried home games involving all three franchises). Originally slated to launch in January 1987, Rainbow later chose to delay the launch of the channel.
After three years of delays, SportsChannel Philadelphia officially launched on January 1, 1990, with an estimated 450,000 subscribers region-wide. In addition to local sporting events, the network also carried Philadelphia Big 5 college basketball games as well as programming distributed nationally by sister service SportsChannel America, including college football and basketball games, NASCAR races and NHL games involving other out-of-market teams to compliment the Flyers broadcasts. Unlike PRISM, SportsChannel Philadelphia was distributed from launch as a basic cable channel. On January 23, 1990, the Phillies reached a four-year, $12 million contract with Rainbow/NBC, awarding SportsChannel Philadelphia and PRISM the regional cable television rights to the majority of the team's games.
On March 19, 1996, Comcast acquired Spectacor (once the original part-owner of PRISM) and a 66% interest in its primary assets – the Flyers, The Spectrum and the then-recently completed CoreStates Center – for $240 million and the assumption of a collective $170 million in debt; the new Comcast Spectacor also immediately purchased a 66% interest in the 76ers. Immediately after the purchase was announced, speculation arose as to whether Comcast would let at least some of Spectacor's broadcasting contracts with Rainbow Media lapse, and create a sports network of its own, displacing both SportsChannel and PRISM from its Philadelphia area systems (Comcast, however, had struck a ten-year carriage agreement with Rainbow for the networks in the fall of 1995); buy the existing networks; or strike a complex deal with Rainbow to have both networks retain the sports broadcast rights. Comcast approached the Phillies – whose contract with SportsChannel Philadelphia and PRISM ended after the 1997 season – about a potential broadcast deal, indicating that Comcast was taking the steps to create a new sports network to compete with SportsChannel.
After short-lived discussions with Comcast about possibly becoming a part-owner in PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia, on April 25, 1996, Comcast formally announced plans to create a new all-sports network of its own that would center around the Flyers and Phillies, the latter of which had signed a deal to move their games to the new network on that date. With uncertainty over its future, relations between PRISM/SportsChannel and Comcast Spectacor became somewhat strained. Negotiations to keep the Flyers television rights on the networks nearly broke down, as Rainbow placed a lower bid for the rights than what the Flyers wanted. By late September, the team announced plans to produce its home game broadcasts themselves and sell the local rights to individual cable providers if a deal was not struck.
In September 1996, SportsChannel and PRISM lost the rights to broadcast Big 5 City Series basketball games, as there was no assurance that the networks would be able to carry the full slate of games, and issues regarding whether Rainbow or the Big 5 would pay for the rights; this left the association to sell the local television rights to the City Series telecasts for the 1996–97 season (with some of the games airing on The Comcast Network). Then on October 4, 1996, the day before its season home opener, the Flyers reached a one-year contract extension with SportsChannel and PRISM, which would pay $5 million for the rights.
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 for $850 million; the deal was primarily struck to acquire SportsChannel Philadelphia and its seven SportsChannel sister networks to expand the national coverage of Fox Sports Net, a group of regional sports networks formed in November 1996 through Fox's purchase of the Liberty-owned Prime Sports regional networks. While the creation of the new Comcast sports network seemingly doomed SportsChannel Philadelphia and PRISM, the deal arose the possibility of one or both networks affiliating with Fox Sports Net.
Even though Comcast had already acquired the television rights to the Phillies, Fox announced that SportsChannel and PRISM would "continue to receive a heavy slate of Phillies and Sixers games". It then formally announced plans for SportsChannel Philadelphia (which would have been renamed Fox Sports Philadelphia, in accordance to the branding conventions of the Fox Sports networks) to add national programs from Fox Sports Net, while PRISM would retain its movies and sports format as a premium channel. There was some speculation, however, that Fox and Comcast could possibly partner to aggregate their respective team rights onto a single channel.
On July 21, 1997, Comcast acquired the local television rights to the 76ers from SportsChannel and PRISM, opting out of its joint contract with the networks that was set to run until the 1999–2000 season. Comcast then reached agreements with Liberty Media and Rainbow Media to replace SportsChannel Philadelphia with the new Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, and PRISM with the Liberty-owned premium movie channel Starz!. The shutdowns of SportsChannel Philadelphia and PRISM resulted in the layoffs of 38 full-time employees.
The shutdown of SportsChannel Philadelphia and launch of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia created some controversy, as the latter distributed its signal using the same terrestrial microwave and fiber optic relay infrastructure that PRISM transmitted through, leaving satellite subscribers that previously received SportsChannel Philadelphia no longer able to watch events from Philadelphia area teams as Comcast exercised a law passed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1992, known as the "terrestrial exception", which allowed programmers the option of not making regional channels available to satellite providers if it does not transmit using communications satellites, blocking DirecTV, Dish Network and the now-defunct PrimeStar from carrying Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. In September 1997, Comcast spokesperson Joe Waz said their decision not to offer Comcast SportsNet on satellite was "about competition", stating that the network could help cable "distinguish itself from satellite rivals"; however, DirecTV complained to the FCC about the move citing unfair competitive practices. Although the "terrestrial exception" loophole was closed by the FCC in a 4-1 vote on January 20, 2010, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia remains unavailable on direct broadcast satellite providers within the Philadelphia market or nationwide.
The 1989–90 NBA season was the 76ers 41st season in the National Basketball Association, and 27th season in Philadelphia. During the offseason, the Sixers acquired Rick Mahorn from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who selected him in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft. Mahorn, who won a championship with the Detroit Pistons last year, joined Charles Barkley and Mike Gminski to form a formidable front court, while longtime Sixer Maurice Cheeks was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs for Johnny Dawkins, who teamed with second-year star Hersey Hawkins in the backcourt.
After a mediocre 18–16 start to the season, the Sixers would win twelve consecutive games, then post an 8-game winning streak near the end of the season. They won the Atlantic Division title compiling a 53–29 record, defeating the Boston Celtics by just one game. In the first round of the playoffs, they would win a hard fought five game series over the Cleveland Cavaliers, then would lose in the semifinals to the Chicago Bulls four games to one.
Barkley finished second in the league's MVP voting behind Magic Johnson. Barkley received more first-place votes (38 of the 92 cast) than Johnson (27), but totaled only 614 points compared to Johnson's 636. He was also selected for the 1990 NBA All-Star Game.1991–92 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1991–92 NBA season was the 76ers 43rd season in the National Basketball Association, and 29th season in Philadelphia. For the season, Charles Barkley changed his jersey number to #32 in honor of Magic Johnson, who retired due to HIV. However, the Sixers had retired that number in honor of Billy Cunningham, who un-retired it for Barkley to wear. After winning seven of their first ten games, the Sixers went on a 7-game losing streak. Plagued by injuries all season, they missed the playoffs by finishing fifth in the Atlantic Division with a 35–47 record. Barkley was selected for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, where Magic returned and won the All-Star MVP award. Making matters worse for the Sixers, Barkley had a falling out with management when they did not re-sign Rick Mahorn, who went overseas to play in Italy. When the season was over, he demanded a trade which the Sixers obliged sending him to the Phoenix Suns. Mahorn would later on sign as a free agent with the New Jersey Nets during the following offseason.1993–94 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1993–94 NBA season was the 76ers 45th season in the National Basketball Association, and 31st season in Philadelphia. During the offseason, the Sixers signed free agent Orlando Woolridge and acquired Dana Barros from the Charlotte Hornets, who acquired him from the Seattle SuperSonics two days prior. Shawn Bradley was drafted as the second pick in the 1993 NBA draft, and the Sixers tried to build a team around him. Moses Malone, the starting center for the Sixers from 1982 to 1986 was signed to help develop the 7'6" center from Utah, but it was to no avail. Bradley went down with a knee injury after 49 games, and was out for the remainder of the season. After a 20–26 start, the Sixers suffered a 15-game losing streak as Jeff Hornacek was traded to the Utah Jazz for Jeff Malone at midseason.
The Sixers continued to struggle as they went on an 11-game losing streak, losing 31 of their final 36 games. They finished sixth in the Atlantic Division with a 25–57 record. Second-year star Clarence Weatherspoon led the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game. Following the season, Woolridge retired, Malone signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs, Johnny Dawkins signed with the Detroit Pistons, and head coach Fred Carter was fired.1994 Philadelphia Phillies season
The 1994 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 112th season in the history of the franchise.1994–95 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1994–95 NBA season was the 76ers 46th season in the National Basketball Association, and 32nd season in Philadelphia. During the offseason, the Sixers signed unrestricted free agent Scott Williams, then signed free agent Willie Burton early into the season. Under new head coach John Lucas, and despite second-year star Shawn Bradley playing a full season, the Sixers struggled after a 10–16 start losing nine consecutive games, as Jeff Malone played just 19 games due to a foot injury. The Sixers finished sixth in the Atlantic Division with a 24–58 record. Top draft pick Sharone Wright out of Clemson was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team. Guard Dana Barros was named Most Improved Player of The Year, averaging 20.6 points per game while shooting .464 from three-point range, and .899 from the free throw line. He was also selected for the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Following the season, Barros departed and signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics.1995–96 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1995–96 NBA season was the 76ers 47th season in the National Basketball Association, and 33rd season in Philadelphia. During the offseason, the Sixers signed free agent Vernon Maxwell, then later on signed second-year guard Trevor Ruffin in December. Top draft pick Jerry Stackhouse and Clarence Weatherspoon both provided a nice young nucleus from which to build. However, finding talent to surround them was often difficult, as the Sixers suffered an 11-game losing streak after a 2–2 start. Early into the season, Shawn Bradley was traded to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Coleman, who only played in just eleven games due to an irregular heartbeat. At midseason, second-year forward Sharone Wright was dealt to the expansion Toronto Raptors as Jeff Malone was released to free agency. The Sixers had their worst season since the infamous 73-loss 1972–73 season, finishing last place in the Atlantic Division with an 18–64 record.
Stackhouse led them with 19.2 points per game and made the All-Rookie First Team. This would also be the final season the Sixers would play in The Spectrum. Following the season, Maxwell re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs, head coach John Lucas II was fired and Ruffin was released.1996 Philadelphia Phillies season
The 1996 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 114th season in the history of the franchise. The Phillies finished fifth in the National League East with a record of 67 wins and 95 losses. They also hosted the 1996 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.1997 Philadelphia Phillies season
The 1997 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 115th season in the history of the franchise.Chubby Dudley
Bay Ragni is an American retired professional wrestler and promoter. He is best known for his appearances with Extreme Championship Wrestling from 1995 to 1996 under the ring name Chubby Dudley, one of the Dudley Brothers.ECW Hardcore TV
ECW Hardcore TV is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by the Philadelphia-based promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) composed of footage from live shows and recorded interviews. It ran in syndication from 1993 until 2000.
Even after ECW gained a nationally-available television program on The Nashville Network (TNN), Hardcore TV was considered ECW's flagship program. The rights to the show now belong to the WWE. The show was voted as Best Weekly Television Show in the 1994, 1995 and 1996 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards.Extreme Championship Wrestling
HHG Corporation, d/b/a Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) is a defunct professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1992 by Tod Gordon. In 1993, Scarsdale, New York, native and businessman Paul Heyman took over the creative end of the promotion from Eddie Gilbert and rechristened the promotion from Eastern Championship Wrestling to "Extreme" Championship Wrestling. Heyman's creative direction created new stars, and established the "third" big brand in the United States, competing with the billionaire-backed World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling promotions. HHG closed ECW in 2001 when it was unable to secure a new national television contract, and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. purchased the assets of the company from bankruptcy in January 2003. The promotion showcased various international styles of professional wrestling, ranging from lucha libre to puroresu and hardcore wrestling.
After purchasing the assets of ECW, WWE relaunched the Extreme Championship Wrestling franchise as a third brand with their existing Raw and SmackDown brands. It debuted on June 13, 2006 on Sci Fi in the United States and ran for close to four years until it aired its final episode on February 16, 2010 on the rebranded Syfy.Francine (wrestling)
Francine Meeks (née Francine Fournier; born February 19, 1972), known by the mononym Francine, is an American semi-retired professional wrestling valet and occasional professional wrestler. She is best known for her appearances with Extreme Championship Wrestling from 1995 to 2001 and with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2005 and 2006. During her tenure with ECW, Francine managed several of the promotion's top wrestlers.Mike Emrick
Michael "Doc" Emrick (born August 1, 1946) is an American network television play-by-play sportscaster and commentator noted mostly for his work in ice hockey. Emrick is currently the lead announcer for NHL national telecasts on both NBC and NBCSN. Among the many awards he has received is the NHL's Lester Patrick Award in 2004, making him the first of only five to have received the award for media work, and the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. He has also won six national Emmy Awards for excellence in sports broadcasting, the only hockey broadcaster to be honored with even one. On December 12, 2011, Emrick became the first member of the media to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.NBC Sports Philadelphia
NBC Sports Philadelphia is an American regional sports network owned by the NBC Sports Group unit of NBCUniversal, which in turn is owned by locally based cable television provider Comcast (and owns a controlling 75% interest), and the Philadelphia Phillies (which owns the remaining 25%). It is the flagship owned-and-operated outlet of NBC Sports Regional Networks. The channel broadcasts regional coverage of professional sports teams in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, as well as college sports events and original sports-related news, discussion and entertainment programming.
NBC Sports Philadelphia is available on cable and fiber optic television providers throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and most of Delaware. The network maintains main studios and offices located inside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia's South Philadelphia district; it also operates a small secondary studio inside Citizens Bank Park, which is used sporadically during Major League Baseball season.NBC Sports Regional Networks
NBC Sports Regional Networks is the collective name for a group of regional sports networks in the United States that are primarily owned and operated by the NBCUniversal division of the cable television company Comcast. The networks were originally established as Comcast SportsNet (CSN), a unit of Comcast's cable television business, beginning with a network in Philadelphia which launched in 1997. Their operations were aligned with the national NBC Sports division following the 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast. NBC Sports Regional Networks' business and master control operations are based in New York City.
The group operates seven regional networks; Comcast also has a partial ownership interest in SportsNet New York, which is co-owned with Charter Communications and the New York Mets. Each of the networks carries regional broadcasts of sporting events from various professional, collegiate and high school sports teams (with broadcasts typically exclusive to each individual network, although some are shown on more than one network within a particular team's designated market area), along with regional and national sports discussion, documentary and analysis programs.
After their realignment with NBC Sports, the networks initially continued to operate primarily under the Comcast SportsNet name. Although Comcast originally considered dropping its name from the networks in favor of NBC Sports following the merger, they still operated under the CSN brand for at least more six years. The group's two networks in California were then re-branded under the NBC Sports brand in April 2017, while the remaining networks were renamed on October 2, 2017.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).SportsChannel
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.
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