USA Network is one of the most popular cable channels in the United States, airing a mix of scripted, reality and sports programming. Here MusicSnake Magazine put together a list of nine facts about USA Network and its history.
Number One: USA Network Series Have Had Novels Based on Their Characters
A number of the channel’s series have novels that were written as extensions of the storyline. This was especially true for Monk, which has had nineteen titles published about the characters, and Psych, which has six titles published. Royal Pains also has two novels based off of its characters.
Number Two: USA Network Had the First Series to Go from Broadcast to Cable
In 1985, NBC produced a remake of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, only to cancel it before the second season. However, USA Network brought the series over from the broadcast network, which is its parent company, producing it for three more seasons. This was the first time a television program was brought over from a broadcast network to a cable network while new episodes were still being made.
Number Three: The Channel Had the First Female President in TV History
Kay Koplovitz started USA Network in 1977, making her the first female network president in TV history. She worked with the station for more than 22 years, seeing it to its number one position among cable channels in prime time and keeping it there for 13 years.
Number Four: USA Network Started as a Sports Channel
Although the network is now known for its scripted dramas and comedies, when the channel first started broadcasting in 1977, it showed college and professional sports. The channel ended this programing in the mid 80’s, instead focusing more on gameshows and old movies, and eventually adding in more scripted series. Today, USA Network airs sports on a more limited basis, continuing to show WWE programs Raw and SmackDown, as well as overflow from NBC’s sports affiliates.
Number Five: It Honors Influential Citizens
While most networks that have award shows celebrate celebrities, USA Network honors citizens who are making a difference. In 2012, the network started the Characters Unite initiative to address issues of social injustice in the world. As part of the program, viewers are able to nominate people they think deserve to be recognized for their efforts, at which point the program chooses 10 to honor with grants and the opportunity to be featured in a PSA directly on the network.
Number Six: Their Highest Rated Program Ever is ‘House’
USA Network has had a lot of hit drama series, including Monk, Psych and White Collar, but their highest rated series ever was not even their own show. In 2006, the network started showing reruns of FOX’s House. After three years of airing the show, it became the network’s highest rated series.
Number Seven: The Network Had the Most Watched Scripted Cable Drama in History
From 2009 until 2012, the channel held the record for the “most-watched scripted drama episode” with the series finale of “Monk.” The final episode brought in 9.44 million viewers, more than doubling the show’s premiere rating.
Number Eight: It Was One of the First Channels to Broadcast Via Satellite
When cable was first becoming an option, stations were broadcasting using a microwave system, which transmits radio signals between two antennas. However, during the 60’s, the first communications satellites were launched, leaving stations with a cheaper alternative to microwaves. USA Network was one of the first stations to take advantage of this technology to broadcast their programing.
Number Nine: USA Network Was Renamed After the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team
The network’s founder Kay Koplovitz has related in interviews that she changed the name to reflect what people chant when the US wins the games. Though not directly named after the event, as she had planned the change before it and hadn’t made the announcement official yet, she said that her idea was confirmed when she saw the 1980 US Olympic hockey team’s miraculous win and everyone in the restaurant she was in shouting “U.S.A!”
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