Thursday, March 8, 2018

Failed Cable Networks: CBS Cable

While the networks pretended that the burgeoning cable industry didn’t faze them in the early 80’s, they still worried about the potential effect that hundreds of new channels would have on them. While they weren’t losing sleep over it, they still tried to deal with them in some way. NBC mostly ignored cable. ABC sought out partnerships with outside entities, which resulted in channels like ESPN and Lifetime. CBS actually tried to go it alone, which resulted in the creatively named “CBS Cable”.

CBS Cable tried to be an upmarket version of the broadcast network. While CBS had long been nicknamed “The Tiffany Network”, its programming was decidedly lower brow than its management wanted. When it came time to program a smaller, more targeted network, they sought to go higher brow than they could on a broadcast network. CBS Cable featured operas, Shakespeare and classical music. It was a disaster. CBS ended up closing the network, selling its programming and meager Station lineup to A&E- one of ABC’s partnership channels.