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USA Network (commonly referred to as USA) is an American cable television channel launched in 1977. The channel shows a variety of original and second-run programming, from syndicated TV series (such as NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the relocation of Law & Order: Criminal Intent from NBC) to edited movies. It is notable for its original series, particularly WWE Raw, Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, Royal Pains, and White Collar.


Early years

USA Network premiered on September 27, 1977, originally organized as the Madison Square Gardenmarker Network (not to be confused with the New York City regional sports network of that name). The channel became one of the first national cable television channels when it chose to use satellite delivery as opposed to microwave relay to cable systems.

On April 9, 1979, the channel changed its name to USA Network after the ownership structure was reorganized under a joint operating agreement by the UA-Columbia Cablevision cable system (now known as Cablevision Systems Corporation) and MCA Inc./Universal City Studios (whose assets are currently owned largely by NBC Universal and Vivendi SA).

Later, in 1982, Time, Inc. (which would go on to merge with Warner Communications to become Time Warner) and Gulf+Western's Paramount Pictures unit (now part of Viacom) would buy stakes in the venture. MCA/Universal and the latter company would become the sole owners in 1987 (each owning 50%).

One tradition was that USA Network launched a lineup of afternoon game shows, mostly reruns, but there were several original low-budget productions they've aired over the years. It began in October 1984 with reruns of The Gong Show and Make Me Laugh. In September 1985, the network began airing revival of Jackpot. An original show was added in September 1986: Love Me, Love Me Not. More shows were progressively added soon after such as the Joker's Wild, Tic Tac Dough, Press Your Luck, High Rollers, and Hollywood Squares with John Davidson, along with Wipeout, Face the Music, and Name That Tune. Another original show was added in June 1987 called Bumper Stumpers.


The tradition continued into the '90s with the $25,000 and $100,000 Pyramids, the early '90s revivals of The Joker's Wild and Tic Tac Dough plus other well-known shows such as Scrabble, Sale of the Century, Talk About and, Caesar's Challenge. Two more original shows were added in June 1994: Free 4 All and Quicksilver. When it began, the game show block ran for an hour. By 1989, the network ran game shows from noon to 5pm five days a week. The block was decreased in September 1991 from only 2 to 5pm, also an exciting new segment where viewers called in to win cash and prizes called Lucky Day, the segment was hosted by John Davidson and ran until 1993. Another hour was added in March 1993. In November 1994, it was cut back to only two hours from 2 to 4pm. In October 1995, the network dropped the entire game show block. Some of the game shows that USA broadcast can still be seen on GSN.

On September 24, 1992, USA launched a sister network, the Sci Fi Channel, recently renamed as Syfy.

In 1997, 3 years after the Paramount/Viacom merger, that company sold its stake in the networks to Universal (which, along with parent MCA, changed ownership twice earlier in the 1990s: to Matsushita in 1991, and then Seagrams in 1995, the latter company making Universal Studios the corporate name of its media division in 1997). Seagrams/Universal subsequently sold the networks to Barry Diller.

In the late '90s, USA also had a block called USAM in the mornings which defined Primetime Comedy in the Morning. This block included mostly sitcoms and the Bob Saget era of America's Funniest Home Videos from 1989-1994.

Alan Kalter was the network's main promotional voice throughout the 1980s and much of the 1990s. His voice is still heard in the disclaimer spiel prior to their showing of infomercials.

At one point, USA shared channel time/space with two other cable nets, C-SPAN and Black Entertainment Television; both these services would be listed in TV Guide under "USA", with a disclaimer that the program is a presentation of either BET or C-SPAN. Later, it simulcast Bloomberg TV in the early-morning hours; that simulcast moved to E! in 2004.


In 2000, USA Networks bought Canada's North American Television, Inc. (a joint partnership between the CBC and Power Corporation of Canada), owner of cable TV channels Trio and Newsworld International (the CBC continued to program NWI until 2005, when eventual USA owner Vivendi sold the channel to a group led by Al Gore, who relaunched it as Current TV).

In 2001, USA Networks sold its non-shopping TV and film assets (including the USA Network, the Sci Fi Channel, the Trio channel, USA Films (which is rechristened as Focus Features) and Studios USA) to Vivendi Universal. USA and the other channels are folded into Vivendi's Universal Television Group.

In 2003, General Electric's NBC agreed to buy 80% of Vivendi Universal's North American-based filmed entertainment assets, including Universal Pictures and Universal Television Group in a multibillion dollar purchase, renaming the merged company NBC Universal.

In 2004, NBC Universal officially took over as owner of USA and its sibling cable channels (except for Newsworld International as stated above).

USA Network launched a high definition version of the channel broadcasting in 1080i on October 3, 2007. and is currently available on DirecTV, Dish Network, and several other cable systems,

The network is the longtime home of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, and was the longtime cable home of the United States Open marker, which moved to ESPN2 & the Tennis Channel as of 2009. Since 2004, they have broadcast portions of the Olympic Games, along with many other NBC Universal basic cable channels. Previously, it had a weekly boxing show named USA Tuesday Night Fights, which ran for 17 years. USA is also the home of World Wrestling Entertainment's (then called the World Wrestling Federation) flagship cable TV show WWE Raw from its debut in January 1993 until September 2000, and currently since October 2005. Each April from 1982–2007, USA broadcast the opening two rounds of the Masters Tournamentmarker along with high-definition coverage on Universal HD. The coverage switched to ESPN in 2008.

Once a minor player in basic cable, the network has steadily gained popularity because of breakout hits like the detective series Monk, the fake psychic crime-solving series Psych, the covert-operations spy series Burn Notice, the return of WWE Raw, the science fiction mini-series turned regular series The 4400, and the Stephen King–based psychic series The Dead Zone. Reruns of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and NCIS are also frequently shown. Other syndicated programs on the network include Becker, House, JAG, Wings and Walker, Texas Ranger. The network also broadcasts a variety of films from the Universal Studios library.

NBC Universal announced before NBC released their 2007–08 fall schedule on May 13, 2007 that Criminal Intent would be renewed for a seventh season. However, the new episodes of the series would premiere on USA beginning in fall 2007, with episodes repeating later in the season on NBC, most likely to shore up any programming holes created by a failed series. Although this is not the first time a broadcast series has moved to cable (as early as 1987, NBC's revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents moved to USA Network), it is a first in that a series which moved to cable will continue to show episodes on a broadcast network during its first-run era . On December 7, 2007, it was announced that USA Network would continue broadcasting first-run episodes of WWE Monday Night Raw until 2010.

In 2008, USA announced a new original series In Plain Sight, starring Mary McCormack, focusing on a United States Marshal working for the Witness Protection Program. The show was filmed in Albuquerquemarker, New Mexicomarker. The series debuted June 1, 2008 with some fairly high ratings. It became USA's highest-rated series premiere since the premiere of Psych in 2006 with 5.3 million viewers. And on April 19, 2009 at 9:00PM EST, Criminal Intent's season 8 premiere will air after being rescheduled from November 2007. And In Plain Sight's second season will premiere after that at 10:00PM (Eastern).

In early 2009, USA Network acquired the network television rights for 24 recent and upcoming Universal Pictures films for $200 million. Among the films included in the deal are Milk, Frost/Nixon, Duplicity, State of Play, Land of the Lost and Funny People. As of January 18, 2009 it has been noted that House is the highest-rated drama on USA Network (to this day) surpassing both Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, with In Plain Sight, Monk and NCIS.

Monk (which has returned for its last season) and Psych returned Friday, August 7, 2009. Psych paused mid-season on Friday, October 16, 2009 and will resume the airing of the 4th season's episodes in January 2010. Burn Notice will resume with airing the remainder of the 3rd season's episodes on Thursday, January 28, 2010. While Sunday night series Law & Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight return with their new seasons in March 2010 though USA is taking 'the darkness' out of both shows with major cast reductions, and fans of both shows try to keep the show's current formats the same.

Starting November 27, 2009, Monk will air its 2-part series finale, "Mr. Monk and The End".


Upcoming pilots/series


USA Network slogans

  • April 9, 1979–September 10, 1989: It's a Great Place to Stay (1st logo only)
  • April 9, 1979-September 10, 1989: (used concurrently) America's All-Entertainment Network (1st logo only)
  • September 11, 1989–September 12, 1993: America's Favorite Cable Network (1st logo only)
  • September 13, 1993–May 31, 1996: The Remote Stops Here (1st logo only)
  • June 1, 1996–July 3, 1999: The Cure for the Common Show (2nd logo only)
  • July 4, 1999–July 2005: You Are Here (3rd, 4th, and 5th logos)
    • This logo initially had 7 stripes, but due to problems with the NTSC rastor causing problems with the station ID bug, it was later changed to 5 stripes.
  • July 2005-present: Characters Welcome (6th logo only)
    • This slogan incorporates the use of television spots featuring USA original characters interacting with each other or the world (with humorous effect).

USA Network promotional voices

  • Alan Kalter (1980s-1993)
  • Fred Harrison (1996-2004)
  • Lou Schultz, end credits voice (1997)
  • Jerry Combs (2004-present)
  • Lou Cohen (2004-present)



In February 2007, Shaw Communications submitted an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), to bring the USA Network to Canada (and to automatically allow all English-language general interest cable networks from the USA into Canada). However, because of programming rights issues in Canada, certain programs would be subjected to blackout, including WWE Raw. In September 2007, the commission refused Shaw Communications' request to carry USA Network into Canada because it had too much programming that overlapped with Mystery TV. Mystery TV is an English language digital cable specialty channel that is owned by CanWest MediaWorks Inc. and Groupe TVA. However, on September 20, 2007, the CRTC did say they would reconsider their denial of USA Network, when Shaw Communications instead offered to carry USA Network on their digital cable packages, at a future date.

South America

Countries in Latin America such as Brazilmarker previously had their own USA Network versions, but in 2003, most were renamed Universal Channel to take advantage of the more well-known brand and reduce the awkwardness of a channel branded with the initials of another nation.


USA was the #1 network in basic cable prime, delivering more P25-54 (1.33 million, +23% over #2 TNT) and P18-49 (1.30 million, +16% over #2 TBS) than any other network the third straight year. In 2008, USA was also the top network in basic cable prime among total viewers (2.84 million, +19% over #2 Disney Channel) and households (2.11 million, +17% over #2 Disney Channel).

USA's 2008 average for P25-54 (1.33 million), P18-49 (1.30 million), total viewers (2.84 million) and households (2.11 million) is the highest ever for a basic cable network in Primetime. USA delivered more P25-54, P18-49, and total viewers than The CW in prime (Mon-Sun 8P-11P). This is the first time a cable network has beaten a broadcast network.

See also


  1. DIRECTV Adds Six HD Channels
  2. Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  3. DISH Network Expands National HD Line-Up
  4. All Three 'Law & Order'- Branded Series Will Continue On The Networks Of Nbc Universal
  5. Weprin, Alex. USA Extends WWE Monday Night Raw Deal. Broadcasting & Cable: December 7, 2007.
  6. Governor Bill Richardson Announces In Plain Sight to be Filmed in New Mexico :: New Mexico Film
  10. CHANNEL CANADA :: USA Network Could Be Coming To Canada
  11. Digital Home Canada - CRTC refuses to allow USA Network in Canada
  12. Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-104

External links

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