|Turner Network Television, Inc.|
Before the name was applied to a current network, TNT was the name of a syndication service. In 1982, TNT produced two exhibition football games that were organized by the NFL Players Association during the 1982 NFL strike. The union had hoped to establish a new football league with those games, to help fans cope with the lack of National Football League games. But neither game drew well, either in attendance or TV ratings, and no further games were played.
TNT as a cable service was launched with a showing of the 1939 classic movie Gone with the Wind (which Ted Turner had acquired the rights to), on October 3, 1988. It was chosen because, it was said, it was Turner's favorite movie - it would also be the first program on sister channel Turner Classic Movies in 1994. Incidentally, the film had been premiered in Atlanta, Turner's hometown and the headquarters of Turner Broadcasting.
TNT was, at least initially, a vehicle for older movies and television shows, but slowly began to add original programming and newer reruns. When TNT began broadcasting pre-1986 MGM films, it caused a controversy when they began "colorizing" many black and white classics.
In 1990, it obtained partial rights to the National Football League, which it retained until 1997. The package consisted of three or four preseason games annually and of regular-season telecasts of the first half of each season.
Starting in 1995, TNT was also the home of WCW Monday Nitro, the flagship show of the now defunct World Championship Wrestling, once regularly the highest rated weekly program on cable. The program defeated Monday Night Raw, the flagship show of the then-World Wrestling Federation, for 83 straight weeks until 1998.
It was also known for its late night programming, such as "Monstervision", which showcased b-movies (including a Godzilla marathon at the end of every month), with occasional guest hosts Penn and Teller. "Monstervision" eventually found a permanent host in cult personality and drive in movie aficionado Joe Bob Briggs, who usually appeared outside his trailer home (actually a none too convincing set). Every Saturday night, from 1995 to 2000, he would host a pair of horror films (such as Friday the 13th Part 2 and Wes Craven's New Nightmare) provide a running commentary, trivia, off-color jokes and a drive-in total (a tongue-in-cheek check list of the featured movie's most exploitative elements, such as number of bare breasts, dead bodies, etc.). Also included in his host segments were jokes at the expense of Turner Network Television's Standards and Practices department for heavy censorship of the featured movies. This running joke culminated in a Friday the 13th all-night marathon during Halloween of 1998, where it was implied that Ted Turner was out to kill him.
On June 12, 2001, TNT relaunched itself, with a new logo and tagline, "We Know Drama." It now focuses on sports and high-action movies with lots of drama and energy, and the "Primetime in the Daytime" weekday lineup featuring reruns of network TV dramas such as Law & Order, Charmed, NYPD Blue, ER, Without a Trace, Alias, Judging Amy, Las Vegas and Cold Case. TNT is also one of the Turner-owned channels which now shows the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. It is in direct contrast to sister network TBS, which shows more comedy related programming.
TNT Sports (under the Turner Sports division) mainly consists of National Basketball Association games and NASCAR races. The NBA on TNT (with studio hosts Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley) dates back to 1988 and has aired, either by itself or in combination with a similar package on TBS Superstation, ever since. NASCAR came to TNT in 2001, carried over from TBS by their shared parent company. From 2001 to 2006, the race package was split with NBC; as of 2007, it stands alone, with six races telecast annually. Currently, TNT has the cable rights to the first two rounds of two of golf's major championships, The British Open and The PGA Championship.
TNT may also air some Major League Baseball playoff games starting in October 2007 if there is a conflict with the TBS Superstation coverage (e.g. two games in different Division Series are both scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Eastern time on a Saturday, the start of one game running at the same time as the finish of another, or the unlikely event of two different one-game playoffs to break ties).
European, British, Australian, Spanish and Indian versions of TNT were launched in the 1990s but was exclusively dedicated to movies, mainly from the MGM and Warner Brothers archives. The European, Australian and Asian versions of the channel eventually derived into Turner Classic Movies.
TNT came back to the Spanish market in summer 2007, when it launched exclusively on pay tv platform Digital+ and becoming the 6th Turner network available in Spain after Turner Classic Movies, Turner Classic Movies Clásico (launched alongside the new TNT), Cartoon Network, Boomerang and CNN+, a joint-venture between Turner Broadcasting and the Spanish Sogecable.
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