TNT (American TV network)
TNT is an American basic cable network that is owned by WarnerMedia Entertainment, a unit of AT&T's WarnerMedia. When TNT launched in October 1988, the channel's original purpose was to air classic films and television series to which Turner Broadcasting maintained spillover rights through its sister channel SuperStation TBS ; however, since June 2001, its programming consists of television series and feature films with a focus on drama, along with some sports.
, TNT was received by approximately 89.573 million households that subscribe to a subscription television service throughout the United States.
BeginningsPrior to the launch of the channel in 1988, the Turner Network Television name had been utilized by the Turner Broadcasting System for an ad-hoc syndication service which produced and distributed various sporting events for carriage on Turner's Atlanta, Georgia superstation WTBS as well as broadcast television stations throughout the United States.
The Turner Network Television syndication service launched in 1982 to produce two exhibition games organized by the NFL Players Association during the NFL strike, which were broadcast on WTBS and its national superstation feed. The TNT syndication service also produced and distributed the first Goodwill Games – organized by Robert E. "Ted" Turner III himself, in response to the Olympic boycotts involving the United States and the Soviet Union of the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics – in 1986.
On October 6, 1987, Ted Turner announced the launch of Turner Network Television – his fifth basic cable network venture, following SuperStation TBS, CNN, Headline News and the short-lived Cable Music Channel – in a keynote address at the opening day of the Atlantic Cable Show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, stating that the channel would center around major television events. Turner originally estimated that TNT would be offered to cable systems at a monthly rate of 10¢ per subscriber at launch, with 10 minutes of advertising being carried each hour. Turner Broadcasting struggled to obtain carriage commitments from various cable providers to commence with the proposed service's launch plans, putting uncertain TNT's fate. Turner also entered into preliminary discussions with NBC Inc. to purchase a 25% stake in the company, with the prospect of using NBC's financial and programming expertise to get TNT off the ground; however, such discussions terminated by January 1988 without a resolution.
By February 1988, Turner had disclosed that TNT's programming would focus around movies from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film library – which Turner acquired as a result of his 1986 sale of the MGM film studio to Kirk Kerkorian – and major television events, including made-for-cable movies, high-profile specials, sports events, documentaries and miniseries. Cable systems were given the option of substituting a superstation or other out-of-market television station for TNT upon launch without incurring any copyright liabilities for carriage of the distant signal for the second half of 1988. However, the proposed launch date – originally slated for July 1 of that year – was delayed because it would have presented several issues, including obtaining channel clearances and assembling a programming schedule in such a contracted timespan, and the unfavorability of promoting a service during the summer. On March 7, Turner Broadcasting System's board of directors unanimously approved Ted Turner's plan for Turner Network Television, with October 3 as the channel's proposed launch date. Plans called for TNT to offer 250 nights of original and live sports programming per year within five years of its debut.
The channel launched at 7:55 p.m. Eastern Time on October 3, 1988, with TNT founder Ted Turner delivering a message about the channel's launch and programming, followed by a pre-recorded performance of The Star Spangled Banner, which traditionally played during the launch of a new Turner-owned network. Its inaugural telecast was the first half of the 1939 classic film Gone with the Wind, a film which Ted Turner had acquired the rights; the second half aired the following night at the same time, with the film then being shown in its entirety that Sunday. It was said that Gone with the Wind was chosen as the channel's inaugural program because it was Turner's favorite movie. Incidentally, the film was set and had its premiere held in Atlanta, Turner's hometown and the headquarters of the channel's corporate parent, Turner Broadcasting System.
TNT was initially a vehicle for older movies and television shows to which Turner either already held rights or acquired specifically for the channel; these films made up the majority of TNT's programming during its first six years of operation. The initial schedule also consisted of animated and live-action children's programs, with western series on Saturday mornings and a limited schedule of other classic television series in select other time periods. In its early years, TNT caused controversy among film critics and fans for its airings of colorized versions of many classics that were originally filmed in black-and-white.
The channel launched with an estimated 17 million subscribers, its initial coverage totaling 6.8 times that of the largest previous cable network launch. The channel's operations were based inside office space at Turner Broadcasting's Techwood Drive complex in midtown Atlanta that formerly served as the facilities for CNN Headline News from its launch as CNN2 in January 1982 until it and parent network CNN moved their operations into the CNN Center downtown in 1987. Turner Entertainment Networks president Gerald Hogan stated around the time of its launch that TNT would eventually become "the first cable network to directly challenge the three broadcast networks," through the production of original programming that would be of "a quality level equal to and significantly better" than programs carried on the major American broadcast television networks; as such, the channel slowly began to add original programming and newer reruns within two years of its launch. The channel debuted its first original made-for-TV film on March 8, 1989, when TNT premiered Nightbreaker, an Arms Race-era drama starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.
ExpansionIn 1995, TNT debuted WCW Monday Nitro, which assumed the distinction as the flagship program of the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling from WCW Saturday Night, which debuted on sister channel TBS in 1992 and ran on that channel until 2000. At one point, Monday Nitro was regularly the highest-rated weekly program on cable television. The program beat Monday Night Raw, the flagship show of the World Wrestling Federation, in the ratings for 83 consecutive weeks from 1996 to 1998. However, by early 1999, the program began to lose viewers to Raw, which became the highest-rated wrestling program on television due to its use of more adult-like storylines. The rapid decline of WCW's viewership can be attributed to the Fingerpoke of Doom and the company's mounting losses. On March 23, 2001, the WWF acquired most of the assets of WCW, which had been up for sale since late 2000; Monday Nitro aired its last episode three days later.
On September 22, 1995, Time Warner – a New York City-based media company formed in 1989 through the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Bros. corporate parent Warner Communications – reached an agreement to acquire the Turner Broadcasting System and its associated properties for $7.5 billion; the deal would also expand Time Warner's pay television holdings, as it had owned HBO and sister premium service Cinemax as well as cable television provider Time Warner Cable since the Time-Warner Communications merger six years prior. Under the terms, Turner would acquire an approximate 10% interest in Time Warner as well as oversee its subscription network group – comprising the Turner and Home Box Office units and its minority interests in Comedy Central and E! – and hold a position on the company's board of directors upon the merger's closure. The merger received regulatory approval on September 12, 1996; the Turner–Time Warner deal was finalized one month later on October 10, forming what at the time was the largest media company in the world.
The channel was also known for its late night programming. One such program was MonsterVision, a Saturday night B movie showcase that aired from 1991 to 2000. Often the series had special themes, such as "Godzilla Bash '94", which was an all-day marathon of Godzilla movies. Penn & Teller served as occasional guest hosts during its early years; and in 1996, MonsterVision found a permanent host in cult personality and drive-in movie aficionado Joe Bob Briggs, who hosted a pair of more contemporary horror films each week, such as Friday the 13th Part 2 and Wes Craven's New Nightmare. During the wraparound segments within each film, Briggs provided a running commentary, trivia, off-color jokes, and a drive-in total, as well as jokes at the expense of TNT's Standards & Practices department regarding the heavy censorship of the featured movies. This running joke culminated in a Friday the 13th all-night Halloween marathon in 1998, where it was implied that Ted Turner was out to kill him.
Into the 1990s, TNT continued to air cartoons from the Turner library, such as The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, the DePatie-Freleng Pink Panther cartoons, Dexter's Laboratory, and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest as part of a daily block called TNT Toons. The Rudy and Gogo World Famous Cartoon Show, which ran from 1995 to 1997, was an original children's program on the channel featuring Warner Bros., MGM, and Popeye shorts, hosted by a titular pair of a marionette and a nanny goat. In January 1996, the channel began scaling back its children's programming amid competition in that market from Nickelodeon and Turner-owned sister channel Cartoon Network; at that time, TNT discontinued its late-afternoon block of animated series in favor of airing acquired drama series such as Starsky & Hutch and In the Heat of the Night. In 1998, TNT dropped all of its remaining cartoons, relegating those shows to Cartoon Network. Most of the animated series and shorts that were dropped would also serve as the core of Boomerang, a subscription channel devoted to classic cartoons that launched on April 1, 2000.
During the 1990s, TNT scheduled a weekday afternoon block that included Due South, ', ' and Babylon 5. In 1998, TNT made efforts to increase its original programming, bumping its production budget by 146%, with programming production costs running in the range of $175 million to $200 million by 2000. That year, TNT took over production of the fifth and final season of Babylon 5 from the Prime Time Entertainment Network after the ad-hoc syndication block ceased operations. The following year, TNT produced the Babylon 5 spinoff series Crusade, which was canceled after 13 episodes, as TNT management decided that science fiction did not fit the channel's brand identity. In 2001, TNT debuted what became its most successful original series at the time, Witchblade, which ran for two seasons, ending in 2002.
Shift towards dramaOn June 12, 2001, TNT underwent an extensive rebrand, with the introduction of a new logo designed by Trollbäck + Company as well as a new slogan, "We Know Drama," a repositioning of the network that Bradley Siegel, then-president of Turner Entertainment Networks, explained had emerged through extensive focus group research with frequent TNT viewers. The slogan emphasized the channel's new focus on dramatic programming, including sports and off-network syndicated dramas such as Law & Order, NYPD Blue, ER and Judging Amy. In addition, NASCAR coverage moved to TNT from TBS starting with the 2001 season, as Turner Broadcasting System management believed that it would fit more with TNT's new format than TBS.
On January 1, 2003, TNT launched a substitute feed called TNT Plus, although it does not appear this was ever reflected in the channel's on-air identity. The apparent sole purpose of its establishment was to force renegotiations with subscription providers to increase carriage fees – with some multiple system operators suggesting that Turner was seeking a 10% increase in subscriber fees for the channel – to help pay for TNT's new NBA and NASCAR contracts well before the channel's distribution agreements with providers were scheduled to come up for renewal. In theory, TNT Plus was to have been the sole carrier of Turner's NBA and NASCAR coverage from that point forward, while any providers still carrying the original TNT would have seen replacement programming instead. Although it appears that Comcast did not immediately sign on to carry TNT Plus, there is no evidence that Turner had actually pulled its sports programming from the "original" TNT.
On December 7, 2008, TNT unveiled an update to its logo, displaying it mainly in a silver or sometimes gold beveling. The "We know drama" tagline remained, but the channel added more of a focus on its original series and announced plans to carry three nights of original programming a week during primetime, starting in 2009. In 2012, TNT rebranded itself with a new slogan: "Drama, Period.", with the logo being recolored to match the themes of its shows.
On May 14, 2014, TNT altered its on-air branding to "TNT Drama" and introduced a new slogan, "Boom". The branding campaign reflects the channel's refocusing towards action-adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, suspense series alongside its slate of crime dramas. The channel purchased subscription-television rights in September for the next five Marvel Studios movies starting with . In 2016, TNT changed its logo after 15 years.
AT&T eraIn 2018, TNT parent Time Warner was acquired by AT&T and renamed WarnerMedia. On March 4, 2019, WarnerMedia underwent a major reorganization of its broadcasting assets, in which Turner Broadcasting would effectively be dissolved, and WarnerMedia's television properties would be divided among three divisions within the WarnerMedia umbrella, with TNT, along with TBS, truTV and HBO being reassigned to WarnerMedia Entertainment, chaired by Bob Greenblatt. AT&T did not specify any timetable for the changes to take effect, although WarnerMedia had begun to remove all Turner references in corporate communications and press releases, referring to that unit's networks as "divisions of WarnerMedia".
In 2019, TNT began broadcasting All Elite Wrestling, marking the network's re-entry into the professional wrestling scene following the aforementioned closure of World Championship Wrestling. In October 2019, TNT debuted , which assumed the distinction as the flagship program of the All Elite Wrestling.
High-definition feedTNT HD is a high definition simulcast feed of TNT, which broadcasts at a picture resolution of 1080i; the HD feed launched on May 21, 2004, inaugurated with the network's coverage of Game 1 of the between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. TNT has been criticized for its practice of airing a significant amount of 4:3 standard definition content stretched to 16:9 on its HD feed, utilizing a nonlinear process similar to the "panorama" setting on many HDTVs that some viewers have nicknamed Stretch-o-Vision.
Though other cable channels have also fallen into this practice for their HD simulcast feeds, TNT has been the one most commonly cited since it was one of the first channels to offer such a simulcast. The nonlinear stretching process leaves objects in the center of the screen with approximately their original aspect ratio; objects at the left and right edges are distorted.
ProgrammingTNT currently airs a mix of original drama and reality series, and reruns of dramas that originally aired on the major broadcast networks. Original programs currently seen on TNT include Animal Kingdom, Good Behavior, The Last Ship and Claws. The channel's daytime, overnight and Saturday morning schedule is heavily dominated by reruns of current and former network police procedural series such as Castle, Bones and TNT mainstay Law & Order, while its weekday morning schedule focuses on sci-fi, supernatural and fantasy series.
MoviesFeature films have been a mainstay of TNT since its inception. TNT maintains movie licensing agreements with sister company Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
Since the launch of Turner Classic Movies, TNT's movie lineup has shifted away from classic films outside of special airings of films such as The Wizard of Oz, in favor of more recent films released from the 1980s onward, with an emphasis on films released after 1995. Presently, most of the films broadcast on TNT are of the drama and action genres, however some comedy films continue to air on the channel periodically. Movies generally air on the channel during the overnight hours on most nights and for much of the day on weekends.
Beginning in 1997, TNT broadcast a 24-hour marathon of the 1983 comedy film A Christmas Story from the evening of Christmas Eve to the evening of Christmas Day. The marathon ran simultaneously on sister channel TBS until 2009, when the annual event became exclusive to that channel. However, as of 2014, TNT has begun airing the movie for 24 hours once again. Once each weekend, TNT airs a movie in primetime with limited commercial interruption, branded in on-air promos under the title "More Movies, Less Commercials".
Sports programmingAtlanta Hawks. Under the initial agreement and a subsequent five-year contract signed in December 1989, TNT carried about 50 regular season and 25 playoff games during the inaugural season of its contractual rights.
In the early 1990s, some Hawks game telecasts shown on TNT and TBS became subject to blackout within 35 miles of the home team's arena. This restriction was dropped in 2000, allowing TNT the right to be the exclusive broadcaster of any game it chose to carry. TNT had regularly broadcast NBA games on multiple Tuesday nights until the. The weekly telecasts were then moved to Thursday nights in, when TBS was opted out of rights to NBA coverage as a result of the league's contract renewal with Turner Sports. In addition to carrying NBA regular season games, which typically air as a doubleheader on most weeks, TNT also airs opening night games, the NBA All-Star Game, and the vast majority of games within the conference playoffs and one of the Conference Finals under the NBA on TNT branding. Since 2015, the All-Star Game has been simulcast on TBS to mute any in-house competition, though unlike most TBS/TNT simulcasts such as the SAG Awards, this is not specifically called out in promotional advertising and only TNT's airing of it is mentioned in any manner.
College basketballIn 2011, TNT obtained a share in the television rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship as part of a comprehensive broadcast rights deal known as NCAA March Madness. The deal also involves CBS and fellow Turner properties TBS and TruTV. During even-numbered years, Turner holds exclusive rights to the Final Four-onward; alongside the main telecast on TBS, the Final Four and championship have been simulcast by TNT and TruTV with alternate commentary teams representing the participating teams, branded as Team Stream powered by Bleacher Report.
GolfTNT televised the PGA Championship, carrying full coverage of the first two rounds and early coverage of the weekend rounds. The rights have been held since 1999, and the current contract with the PGA of America ends in 2019—after which ESPN will assume the rights.
In 2003, TNT took over the rights to broadcast the Thursday and Friday rounds of The Open Championship, as well as the rights to weekday rounds of the Women's British Open and Senior British Open. ESPN assumed the Open Championship rights in 2009. From 2000 to 2007, TNT also carried the biennial PGA Tour-managed Presidents Cup. The television rights were assumed by Golf Channel beginning with the 2009 event as part of its overall subscription-TV deal with the PGA Tour.
UEFABeginning in the 2018-19 season, Turner Sports holds rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, the two highest levels of European competition, under a three-year deal. 46 Champions League matches and the finals of both competitions are aired per-season on TNT, with the remainder streaming on B/R Live—a newly-created streaming service run by its sister sports news website Bleacher Report. In June 2020, Turner Sports, announced they will be ending their deal to broadcast the UEFA Champions League a year early.
Major League Baseball (overflow)TNT carries limited playoff coverage from MLB on TBS, but only in rare exceptions where a long-running or extra innings game forces a bump over in coverage of the newer game temporarily from TBS to TNT until the earlier game's conclusion, when the coverage on TNT ends at the conclusion of the current half-inning and the game moves fully to TBS. In the 2011 and 2012 playoffs it carried seven pre-scheduled Division Series games in full before Major League Baseball decided to use MLB Network in future years in a shift of scheduling to allow more night game carriage.
NASCARIn 2001, TNT assumed the subscription television rights to select Winston Cup and Busch Series races as part of a deal between NASCAR, NBC and TNT. Turner Broadcasting initially planned to have TBS serve as the pay-TV partner during negotiations, which would have allowed it to retain rights to NASCAR events, but decided that the NASCAR telecasts would better fit TNT's "We Know Drama" image campaign. TNT retained NASCAR rights after NBC chose not to renew its broadcast contract following the 2006 NASCAR season; the channel's broadcasting agreement with the organization ended in 2014, as a result of a television deal with NBC effective that year, which gave it rights to the last 20 races of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season as well as rights to Sprint Cup events through 2025. The last race broadcast by TNT was the Camping World RV Sales 301 on July 13, 2014.
National Football LeagueIn 1990, TNT obtained partial television rights to the NFL's Sunday Night Football package in a comprehensive agreement in which games were split with ESPN. The NFL on TNT consisted of three or four preseason game broadcasts and telecasts of regular season games during the first half of each season until 1997. Abiding by NFL broadcasting rules, TNT distributed its game telecasts to broadcast television stations in the local markets of the teams playing in that week's game.
InternationalEuropean, Middle Eastern, African, Australian, Latin American and Asian versions of TNT were launched in the middle of 1990s, which were exclusively dedicated to movies, mainly from the MGM and Warner Bros. archives. The European, Australian and Asian versions of TNT shared channel space with Cartoon Network, while the Latin American version shared space with CNN International. The Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific TNT channels were eventually relaunched as Turner Classic Movies, while the Latin American version retained the TNT branding. The most well-known TNT channel in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific was the French version, which used similar graphics to what the flagship U.S. channel was using at the time.
Latin AmericaRegional versions of TNT were launched in Brazil and Latin America in 1991; the channel mostly shows films, along with a few series. All programs used to be presented subbed in Spanish and Portuguese, until 2015, when the channel reverted it and made available the dubs; however, the channel also offers closed captions on digital operators. TNT Latin America and TNT Brazil began operating high definition simulcast feeds in 2009. In Latin America, TNT broadcasts all of the high-profile award shows including the Oscars and Grammys.
- TNT Mexico
- TNT Venezuela
- TNT Colombia/Ecuador
- TNT Central America and Caribbean
- TNT Chile/Peru/Bolivia
- TNT Argentina/Paraguay/Uruguay
- TNT Brazil
- TNT Latin America HD
- TNT Brazil HD