Prime Network has moved a step closer to creating television's first all-sports news network.
Prime Sports News will be made available to 15 regional sports networks across the country, including our own PSN here in Utah.No firm startup date has been announced, but Prime Sports News is expected to begin operations about the time the baseball season gets under way this spring.
Plans call for Prime Sports News to be made available to each of the regional networks at its discretion. Theoretically, each network will be able to tap in for 30-minute segments at times of their choosing.
(It's sort of the same idea as CNN Headline News, which provides constantly updated half-hour roundups 24 hours a day.)
This isn't the first effort to create an all-sports news channel. Mizlou's Sports News Network recently went down the drain after a failed attempt.
Reportedly, SNN was on the verge of being sold to Landmark Communications when Landmark learned of Prime Sports News, which is owned by Tele-Communications Inc. In addition to being the largest cable company in America, TCI also owns four of the regional Prime Sports Networks (including the one we see here in Utah).
Landmark realized SNN would never be competitive because none of TCI's cable companies would carry it.
Eventually, what TCI would really like to see is Prime Sports News standing alone as a separate network on its own channel 24 hours a day. (At least you can be sure it would be carried on TCI cable systems.)
But that's probably quite a way down the road.
NHL ON PSN?: It's no secret that the National Hockey League isn't happy about its deal with SportsChannel America, now in its last season.
Not that the money was bad. But SportsChannel only has 12.5 million subscribers, meaning the NHL isn't available to the vast majority of Americans.
PSN, on the other hand, has grown to 23.5 million subscribers. And ESPN, the sports cable giant, is available in more than 56 million homes.
The NHL may be thinking about offering a "game-of-the-week" to ESPN and more extensive coverage to either SportsChannel or PSN.
Should PSN take hockey away, it would be a big boost for that cable network and a severe (perhaps fatal) blow to SportsChannel.
CABLE RATINGS: We're always talking about broadcast ratings - how ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox do in the numbers racket. But here's a look at how various cable networks do in their efforts to attract an audience.
To no one's surprise, CNN is far and away the top cable network, pulling in more than twice the audience of its sister station, TBS. During January, 1991, CNN average a 3.3 rating and a 9.2 share of the audience.
(Note, however, that broadcast ratings and cable ratings are not the same. For the broadcast networks, one ratings point represents about 931,000 households. For cable networks, one ratings point represents about 57,000 households. The share is the percentage of cable-equipped homes tuned in at any one time.)
Not only does Ted Turner own the top two cable networks, he also owns four of the top six - CNN, TBS, TNT and CNN-Headline News.
Here's a look at the other top cable networks, their ratings and shares:
2. TBS, 1.6/4.7; 3. USA, 1.4/3.7; 4. Nickelodeon, .9/2.6; 5. TNT, .9/2.4; 6. (tie) ESPN and CNN Headline News, .7/2.0; 8. Discovery, .6/1.3; 9. Lifetime, .5/1.5; 10. MTV, .5/1.4; 11. The Family Channel, .5/1.3; 12. The Nashville Network, .5/1.1; 13. A&E, .4/1.0.