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Prior 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 (channel 17, now WPCH-TV, which was separated from its national cable feed, TBS, in October 2007) 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 (NFLPA) during the NFL strike, which were broadcast on WTBS and its national superstation feed. (The agreement with the NFLPA originally called for 18 games to be broadcast by WTBS on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights during the originally proposed strike season, but was reduced to the exhibition games amid lawsuits filed by the National Football League against Turner Broadcasting and the NFLPA union.) 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 (TNT) – his fifth basic cable network venture, following SuperStation TBS, CNN, Headline News (now HLN) 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 (increasing to 20¢ per subscriber per month by March 1989), with 10 minutes of advertising being carried each hour (three to four minutes of which would be given to prospective cable systems for local advertising). 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.
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TNT (originally an abbreviation for Turner Network Television) is an American pay television 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 (now simply TBS); however, since June 2001, its programming consists of television series and feature films with a focus on drama, along with some sports (including NBA games, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League Final and All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite).
As of September 2018, TNT was received by approximately 89.573 million households that subscribe to a pay television service throughout the United States.