The Paramount Network: Get Ready to Welcome Cable’s Newest Channel (Sort Of)

Written Channel Drifting by Bridger Cunningham

Behold cable's newest channel variety, The Paramount Network.  During the evening of January 18, 2018, Spike TV will officially transition its branding to the new title, which will allow parent company Viacom to align its properties around Paramount Productions.  The channel brand change will facilitate the network to avoid duplication of programming among other carriers, as well as allow the cable channel to pursue new trends which may bring in larger ratings.  Such a shift can be defined as "Channel Drift," which a previous and specific scheduling theme is moved away from in favor of pursuing new tastes and trends.
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This broadcast channel, on air since March 7, 1983, is no stranger to format change.  Initially founded as The Nashville Network (TNN), the channel catered to country music as well as Southern Lifestyle pieces.  It operated from the now-defucnt Opryland amusement park.  TNN not only played country music videos like pop sensation MTV, but also displayed NASCAR, hunting and fishing fares and musical variety acts such as The Statler Brothers and Nashville Now.  The network was purchased by the Gaylord Entertainment Company.  After Gaylord purchased Country Music Television (CMT) in 1991, music videos were stripped from TNN to avoid duplication.  In 1995, TNN and CMT were acquired by another production company, Westinghouse/CBS, which eventually merged with Viacom in 1999.  
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By this time frame, TNN began phasing programming away from Southern themed programming in favor of a broader demographic.  The network's focus shifted to male demographics and rebranded the channel "The National Network" in September 2000.  Programming shifted to combat sports, movies and racier content.  Prior to "The New TNN," the wholesome network would not allow such profane words as hell, damn, crap or ass to be heard on screen.  And forget any suggestion of sexuality outside of a married couple not relegated to twin beds.  Beyond 2000, violence, crass language and overt sexuality trickled into the now-male skewing network.  Cable coverage increased on basic providers, as did ratings with the mainstream channel drift.  Several criticized the network for phasing away from G-rated television in a shameless ratings grab.  But the network was a business and had to produce ratings.
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The next rebranding came as Spike-TV, a network directly marketed to men, in August 2003.  The WWE and the Star Trek franchise became prominent players, along with marquee films.  Along with other channels during this decade, Spike TV ventured into the reality TV trend, scoring then-highest ratings with The Joe Schmo Show.  The network also launched The Video Game Awards, keeping with its new format siphoning the male demographic ratings.  
The format held for 15 years, with the latest rebranding encompassing a production studio.  People do not like change, but it is necessary to evolve. And thankfully, this latest channel drift trend keeps adjacent to the channel's most-recent theme.  This transition is a stark contrast between the late 1990's/early 2000's switch from G-rated to brash programming.  Tune into Paramount TV, which is banking heavily on its hyped new series, Heathers, as well as its miniseries Waco and Yellowstone.

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