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Spike
150px-Spike logo.svg
Launched March 7, 1983 (as TNN)
August 11, 2003 (as Spike)
Owned by Network Enterprises, Inc.
(a wholly owned subsidiary of MTV Networks, wholly owned by Viacom)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan Get More Action.
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Formerly called The Nashville Network, TNN, The National Network, The New TNN, Spike TV
Website http://www.spike.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 241
Dish Network Channel 168
Bell TV (Canada) Channel 628
Shaw Direct (Canada) Channel 584
Galaxy 18
North America/Central America/Caribbean
4040 V / 29270 / 3/4
Channel 170
(Transponder 17)
AMC 11 (satellite)
North America/Central America/Caribbean
4060 H / 29270 / 3/4
Channel 530/930
(Transponder 18)
Cable
Rogers Cable (Canada) Channel 279
Available on most cable systems Check Local Listings for channels

Spike (formerly Spike TV), a division of MTV Networks, is an American cable television channel designed for an audience described demographically as "young adult males". The channel began life as The Nashville Network (TNN), founded by WSM, Inc. (a subsidiary of National Life and Accident Insurance Company) in a joint venture with Group W Satellite Communications on March 7, 1983 and acquired a few months later by Gaylord Entertainment Company. As of 2006, Spike's viewership was almost half women (45%), although many of them are reported to be watching it with male partners or family members, or were watching the CSI franchise.[1] The average age of the channel's viewers was 42 years old. Spike is available in 96.1 million American homes.[2] The channel features re-runs of popular shows such as CSI, CSI: NY, Unsolved Mysteries, UFC, and various original programs and movies. It is also the home of the professional wrestling organization Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's flagship show TNA Impact!.

After several changes of ownership and name, Spike operates as part of MTV Networks, owned by Viacom.

In October 2007, Kevin Kay was appointed president, after being executive vice president and general manager of the channel for the previous two years.[3] The post had been vacant since December 2006.[4]

Precursors

The Nashville Network era (1983–2000)

Main article: The Nashville Network

Prior to September 25, 2000, Spike was originally called The Nashville Network, or "TNN" for short. TNN was a country music-themed television channel that was launched on March 7, 1983 from the now-defunct Opryland USA theme park near Nashville, Tennessee. Country Music Television, founded by Glenn D. Daniels, beat TNN's launch by two days, robbing them of the claim of "first country music cable television network." TNN's flagship shows included Nashville Now and Grand Ole Opry Live, both of which were broadcast live from Opryland USA.[5][6] Gaylord Entertainment purchased The Nashville Network and the Opryland properties in the latter half of 1983. Much of TNN's programming during the Gaylord era was originally produced by Opryland Productions, also owned by Gaylord Entertainment.[7] Programming included variety shows, talk shows, game shows, outdoors shows, and lifestyle shows, all centered in some way around country music.[8] Some of TNN's popular on-air talent included local Nashville media personalities Ralph Emery,[9] Dan Miller, Charlie Chase, and Lorianne Crook, as well as established stars such as country music singer Bill Anderson and actresses Florence Henderson and Dinah Shore. By 1995, TNN was acquired by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which owned CBS. In 1998, the channel dropped its "The Nashville Network" moniker and shortened its official name to the simpler TNN. Ownership shifted to Viacom in the late 1990s after its acquisition of CBS Corporation, Westinghouse's successor.[10] TNN subsequently moved out of its original Nashville base to New York City and folded into Viacom's MTV Networks division.

The National Network, The New TNN and the WWE era (2000–2003)

On September 25, 2000, Viacom sensed redundancy among its related TNN and CMT channel when it merged them into its MTV Networks unit. Hence, it decided to refocus TNN, and in the process the channel dramatically scaled back its country-western trappings and changed its name to The National Network.[5][11]

The name change also triggered a significant programming change in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience than its original constituency of rural, or working-class, Southern United States (Southern) whites. This change was catalyzed by Viacom's acquisition of the rights to WWF (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) programming, including its flagship show WWE RAW Is War. The Arena Football League (AFL) had broadcast on the "New" TNN with Eli Gold as an announcer. (This is not to be confused with the "new" 2010 AFL, which was revived with a different management structure, but the same name, in 2010.)

In 2001, TNN aired the first opening-round game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament when organizers expanded the field to 65 teams; it was produced by CBS Sports with CBS announcers. The game coverage moved to ESPN in 2002 and stayed there until 2010. As of 2011, it will be shown on a channel owned by Time Warner, possibly truTV, and will be produced by Turner Sports.

The channel was also one of three to air the XFL's games (NBC and UPN being the other two). As part of its contract TNN had the rights to a late Sunday afternoon game each week except for the first week, when UPN aired the afternoon game instead.

In 2001, TNN added off-network sitcoms and dramas such as Diff'rent Strokes,[12] The Wonder Years,[13][14] The Rockford Files,[14] WKRP in Cincinnati,[14] Newhart, Miami Vice[14] and Taxi.[14][15] TNN was also the first channel to air Mad TV off-network. This went unnoticed for the most part due to TNN's lack of popularity. By that time, all country-western programming had been purged from TNN. Some of The Nashville Network's former programming was picked up by CMT. Other classic TNN shows were picked up by Great American Country, including eventually the Grand Ole Opry, which was pushed off to CMT and eventually removed by Viacom after they did not renew the agreement to carry the series in an attempt to infuse a more youthful schedule on CMT.

As time went on, the words "The National Network" were downplayed in promotions. By late 2002, the channel was known simply as The New TNN and had picked up more male-oriented shows, such as Baywatch, Monster Jam, Bull Riding, Robot Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was an effort both to further distance itself from its former country music-based identity and to trumpet an increase in original programming. Television critics at the time noted disdainfully that "The New TNN", which if written out technically stood for "The New The National Network", a pleonasm. Likewise, after more than two years in a non-country format, it had long ceased to be "new" in any meaningful sense.

Spike TV

In early 2003, another name change was announced. The new brand, Spike TV, was marketed as the first television channel for men. (Eventually, early in 2006, the channel would begin, in promotional segments it airs, referring to itself simply as "Spike", omitting the "TV".)

Spike Lee lawsuit

The name change to "Spike TV" was supposed to be official on June 16, 2003.[16] However, on June 13, film director Spike Lee won a New York Supreme Court injunction preventing the name change. Lee claimed that because of his well-known popularity in Hollywood, viewers would therefore assume that he was associated with the new channel.[17] Lee stated in court papers that: "The media description of this change of name, as well as comments made to me and my wife, confirmed what was obvious--that Spike TV referred to Spike Lee."[18]

The channel had planned an official launch of its new name at a star-studded, televised party at The Playboy Mansion in mid-June. But due to Lee's injunction, the special—titled Party With Spike—had to be heavily edited and the impact of the event was considerably muted. During the lawsuit, even the name "TNN" was significantly scaled back, as logos and voice-overs referred to the channel only as "The First Network for Men".

Spike Jones Jr., son of comic musician Spike Jones, became a party of the lawsuit as part of Viacom's defense to protect the rights to his father's name.[19] The suit was settled on July 8, 2003, and TNN was allowed to call itself Spike TV. In announcing the settlement, Lee admitted that he did not believe that the channel intentionally tried to trade on his name.[20]

Lee's injunction had become the subject of ridicule in the media and talk shows, thus bringing free publicity to the fledgling channel. The name change became official on August 11, 2003.[21]

Spike programming

Main article: List of programs broadcast by Spike

The name change was slated to coincide with an adult-oriented change in programming including original animated series Stripperella and Gary the Rat. Popular reruns such as Baywatch, V.I.P. and The A-Team, original specials such as The 100 Most Irresistible Women and imported programming such as MXC.

Spike TV hired cartoonist John Kricfalusi and a new version of the classic animated hit The Ren and Stimpy Show returned with new episodes in a series known as Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon. After Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon was cancelled, the channel started airing classic episodes that originally aired on Nickelodeon in the 1990s; it was named Ren & Stimpy: The Classics. It was TV-PG instead of TV-MA, though it aired late at night. The original Nickelodeon episodes aired on Spike also aired uncut.

The channel now airs a combination of original programming and reruns of network programming, including series from the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Star Trek franchises, MXC, Game Head, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and Ultimate Fighting Championship programming.

It has scored some major coups in terms of its programming, receiving syndication rights to several Star Trek series (which was produced by another Viacom branch, Paramount Pictures), as well as most of the James Bond series of movies. It is also the cable home to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and the cult TV favorite MXC, an overdubbed version of the Japanese series Takeshi's Castle.

In the fall of 2003, Spike TV aired The Joe Schmo Show, a parody of reality television shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Its finale led to the channel's highest ratings at the time, and a second season aired in the Summer of 2004. In November 2004, Spike TV purchased the cable/satellite syndication rights to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for a record price of $1.9 million per episode. It joined the lineup on October 1, 2006. The promotion of the CSI franchises earned Spike the colloquial title "The CSI Channel" during this period because as much as one third (eight hours) of programming blocks were devoted to the franchise.

On November 18, 2004, they broadcasted reruns of the Nickelodeon TV series SpongeBob SquarePants at midnight, to promote The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie that came out the next day. They did this almost all night, as did another MTV Networks channel, VH1.

In September 2005, all WWE (formerly the WWF) programming on Spike TV left the channel as a result of acrimonious contractual matters between WWE and Viacom. WWE Raw moved back to its original cable home, NBC Universal's USA Network while WWE Sunday Night HEAT and WWE Velocity moved to WWE.com due to failure to gain a time slot for the shows in the United States. On October 1, 2005, wrestling promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling began airing its weekly program TNA Impact! in the Saturday night time slot formerly occupied by WWE Velocity. In WWE's last WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast on the channel, executives decided to censor WWE personalities whenever they tried to mention Raw's return to USA Network, scheduled for the following week. In what turned out to be a hectic night of sound suddenly vanishing, WWE's commentators finally succeeded in slipping the words "Next week on USA" past the censors at Spike TV, most likely due to Spike TV executives finally giving in. Spike was the only channel to air first-run matches from all of the major wrestling organizations in the last 15 years (World Wrestling Entertainment (WWF/WWE) from 2000–2005, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2001 (including the Raw/Nitro simulcast and WCW-sanctioned matches during the The Invasion (pro wrestling) storyline), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) from 1999–2000, and Total Nonstop Action (TNA) from 2005–present).Template:Citation needed

On January 18, 2005, Spike TV debuted The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), an original reality show based around the sport of mixed martial arts which proved to be a surprise hit. Spike later extended their UFC coverage with a programming block dubbed UFC Unleashed.

In October 2005, Spike TV debuted Game Head with Geoff Keighley, a weekly video game show, and later followed up with Fresh Baked Videogames, making them both part of their "Slammin' Saturday Night" lineup. Spike is also home to the annual Spike Video Game Awards and the Spike Guys' Choice Awards. On February 15, 2010 TNA made a new deal with Spike which would move TNA Impact! to Monday nights. The first episode aired on March 8, 2010.[22] However, this only lasted until May 3rd, 2010. From that point on, it moved back to Thursday.

Fresh Baked Video Games

On January 14, 2006, Spike introduced the short lived video game review show Fresh Baked Videogames.[23] Among the shows many comedy sketches, pranks and animations was its most popular segment "A Free Video Game for a Shot to The Nuts".[24] In this segment male contestants volunteer to take a strike to their testicles for a free video game. The contestants are given options on how they will be struck, ranging from a sack of nickels, to a female soccer player. The most popular episode was episode four of season 1 which aired January 28, 2006. On this episode Swedish actress Annika Svedman dressed as an NCAA cheerleader and was selected twice by contestants to be kicked in their testicles by her.[25][26] This specific segment of Annika Svedman emerged in early 2007 on YouTube and has since become an Internet phenomenon which has helped propel Svedman's notoriety. The best known version of the clip (usually distributed as a Flash clip) shows a cheerleading outfit clad Svedman (complete with pom poms) moving her legs back and forth before delivering a debilitating kick. The original clip was made and distributed on YouTube from a thread of the original segment. The clip has been continuously removed from the website for copyright infringement, however, the clip continues to reemerge due to its cult-like popularity.

Star Trek

Spike has devoted large chunks of its programming time to the Star Trek franchise, to varying degrees. It initially featured Star Trek: The Next Generation heavily before introducing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 2004 and Star Trek: Voyager in 2006. All of these introductions were accompanied by multi-day marathons at some point, the Next Generation one including appearances by celebrities such as Wil Wheaton. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had been relegated to late-night hours before their disappearances and The Next Generation had disappeared months before the syndication rights were bought by Syfy. The promotion of the Trek franchises earned Spike the colloquial title The Star Trek Channel during this period because as much as one third (eight hours) of programming blocks were devoted to the franchise.

A notable omission during the period was Star Trek: Enterprise, which the channel passed on (Syfy had proceeded to ease it into four-hour Monday night blocks). TV Land meanwhile had the rights to Star Trek: The Original Series, but Spike stated that there may not be sufficient episodes (only three seasons) to accommodate the kind of blocks it would like to air. Syfy and BBC America now have the rights to Star Trek: The Next Generation.[27]

Spike has replaced that block with reruns of Disorderly Conduct: Video on Patrol and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

"Get More Action"

After the Viacom/CBS Corporation split of 2005, Spike became a part of the "new" Viacom with its sibling channels in the MTV Networks family. In May 2006, the station was re-branded to accentuate its masculinity, including a new logo, dropping the second half of its channel name (TV) from the logo and adding the "Get More Action" tagline.[28]

In June 2006, Spike debuted Blade: The Series, a TV series based on the Blade films. Rapper Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones played Blade in the series. David S. Goyer, writer of all three Blade films (and director of Blade: Trinity), wrote the television pilot and served as executive producer on the series. It was canceled on September 28, 2006.

On September 5, 2006, the documentary film Metal of Honor: The Ironworkers of 9/11 by filmmaker Rachel Maguire, premiered on Spike. Metal of Honor is a documentary profiling the Ironworkers' efforts in the attempts for rescue and recovery on and after the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center site. The film proceeds through the Ironworkers' dismantling of the fallen towers.[29]

On October 10, 2006, Spike presented the Scream Awards, the first awards show honoring horror, science fiction, fantasy and comic books. At the 2007 Comic Con International the Spike TV booth was awarding tickets to that year's presentation ceremony to the winners of their "Scariest Costume" contest.

In late 2006, Spike introduced the Late Night Strip consisting of original series that are sometimes inappropriate for daytime TV, with regular intermissions featuring women. The programming airs Thursdays and Fridays at 12:00 a.m., and includes MXC, Wild World of Spike, The Dudesons, Game Head.

Throughout the summer of 2007, starting on Father's Day, the channel launched its first public service campaign, the "True Dads" national outreach campaign, with former New York Yankees player Don Mattingly spokesperson. This focused on fathers who demonstrated active roles in their children's lives, through public service announcements on the channel featuring both celebrity and ordinary fathers and websites such as Spike's own "True Dads" site, among other things.

In April 2008, Spike aired the commercial TV premiere of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and became the first basic-cable channel in the U.S. to air all six Star Wars movies. Viacom bid against NBC Universal and Turner Broadcasting for this opportunity, which is worth up to $80 million, despite each of those channel systems having previously aired at least part of the original trilogy. The same year, the channel will begin to broadcast a reality show based on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).[30] On the weekend of April 5 and April 6, 2008, the channel aired the first three Star Wars films against the simultaneous Turner Network Television (TNT) broadcast of all three The Lord of the Rings films. More viewers watched the Star Wars broadcasts on Spike than watched the Lord of the Rings broadcasts on TNT.[31] On April 7, 2008 the channel acquired cable syndication rights for the sitcom Married... with Children.[32] Five new unscripted series were picked up for the channel's summer 2008 lineup.[33]

Though the programming is still aimed at the male demographic (age 18–49),[34] Spike no longer makes the claim to be "the first network for men". Presumable motivations for this include acknowledging earlier attempts at "male-only" television (such as mentv in Canada), and the risk of losing access to its Canadian audiences due to a claim of "duplication" (in terms of programming and target audience) contrary to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regulations. Due to licensing restrictions and programming rights issues, Canadian viewers of Spike see alternate programming whenever Spike airs certain films such as the James Bond film series, or other certain series programs.

On June 1, 2010, Spike TV launched into the first crowd-sourced pilot episode contest with Scripped, a Web-based screenwriting community.[35] In this contest, Spike tested its ability to discover new talent from untested channels.

Website

On October 15, 2005 Viacom acquired ifilm.com, which was initially launched in 1997. After acquiring the website for $49 million, it was eventually re-branded to Spike.com and provided hosting of user-uploaded videos.

YouTube was also launched in 2005, which later suffered a class action lawsuit reported to be over $1 billion dollars. Spike.com's managing division claims that they only host videos they approve after they are submitted.[36] YouTube Partner user Mike Mozart pointed out videos on Spike.com/iFilm that were uploaded from YouTube onto Spike.com, most likely without permission as their descriptions are criticizing the video itself. He also pointed out that YouTube embeds hosted on Spike.com did not link back to YouTube, and any sort of video hyperlinking was forcedly disabled, contradicting with YouTube's Terms of Use.[37]

Rugby League

In the fall of 2009, Spike showed live Australian rugby league semi finals games from the NRL and also showed the grand final (equivalent to the NFL's Super Bowl), as David Niu tried to bring professional rugby league (NRLUS) to the United States.[38][39]

References

  1. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/195999-Cover_Story_Breathing_New_Life_Into_Oxygen.php
  2. 'Unsolved Mysteries' Gets a New Look on Spike TV, Spike TV Press Release, April 7, 2008
  3. John Dempsey (October 10, 2007). "New Prexy For Spike TV". Daily Variety. p. 4. 
  4. TV Week: Kay Promoted
  5. 5.0 5.1 Good bye Nashville Network, Country Standard Time, November 2000
  6. Stengel, Richard (1983-03-21). "Country Comes to Cable". 'TIME'. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,923376,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. 
  7. The Nashville Network Begins With Optimism, New York Times, March 11, 1983
  8. Template:Cite book
  9. 41st Annual CMA Awards | 2007 Hall of Fame Inductees
  10. Good bye Nashville Network, Country Standard Time, November 2000
  11. Downey, Kevin (2001-04-09). "The new TNN: T&A, trekking and sleuths". Media Life Magazine. http://www.medialifemagazine.com/news2001/apr01/apr09/1_mon/news2monday.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  12. Diff'rent Strokes: Broadcast stations
  13. Glanzer, Ryan. Top 100 TV Shows of All-Time Countdown. RyanGlanzer.com: 2007.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 TNN Shooting for Lineup that's 50% More Original. Broadcasting & Cable: January 22, 2001
  15. The new TNN: T&A, trekking and sleuths, Media Life Magazine, April 1, 2001
  16. Romano, Allison (2003-04-21). "TNN Hopes Mainly Men Will Watch "Spike TV"s". http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA293348.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  17. Breaking... - 6/16/2003 - Broadcasting & Cable
  18. "Spike sues over channel name". BBC News. June 4, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/showbiz/2961726.stm. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  19. Romano, Allison (2003-06-30). "Another Spike Stakes His Case". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA308200.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  20. Romano, Allison (2003-07-09). "TNN, Lee resolve Spike fight". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA310409.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  21. Romano, Allison (2003-07-28). "Spike to Start, Finally, Aug. 11". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA313236.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  22. "TNA Wrestling Moves To Monday Nights Starting March 8th 2010". Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. 2010-02-16. http://www.tnawrestling.com/news/item/1772-impact-moves-to-mondays-on-march-8. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  23. "Fresh Baked Video Games" (2006) - Episode list
  24. Shot To The Nuts - Fresh Baked VG - Viral - SPIKE
  25. Annika Svedman
  26. MySpaceTV Videos: kick nuts by antonio
  27. "Ghost Whisperer", "Star Trek: TNG" to Haunt Sci-Fi Channel, Zap2It.com, May 5, 2008
  28. Template:Cite press release
  29. Heffernan, Virginia. Metal of Honor: Building on Ground Zero. The New York Times: September 5, 2006.
  30. Weprin, Alex. Spike TV Orders DEA Reality Show. Broadcasting & Cable: January 10, 2008
  31. Ryan, Joal (2008-04-08). "Star Wars vs. LOTR: And the Winner Is...". E! Online News. http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=0f54ca0e-52de-44e1-b6c2-1c4595b1c830. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  32. Weprin, Alex (2008-04-07). "Spike TV Acquires Married...With Children". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6548537.html?rssid=193. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  33. Weprin, Alex (2008-05-08). "Spike TV Picks Up Five Unscripted Series". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6558935.html?rssid=193. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  34. Time Warner Cable Media Sales :: Target Demographics
  35. "Scripped.com Announces Script Competition With Spike TV". Marketwire. 2010-06-01. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Scrippedcom-Announces-Script-Competition-With-Spike-TV-NYSE-VIA-1268723.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  36. Bangeman, Eric. "Infringing videos on iFilm could cause problems for Viacom" Ars Technica. March 19, 2007
  37. JeepersMedia. "Viacom Stole From YOU the YouTube Community" YouTube. April 27, 2010
  38. http://www.spike.com/blog/spike-tv-brings/86142
  39. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/cape_may/article_b0a124ce-0e45-5f9a-b6a3-35b91f906e51.html

See Also

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