Since 2003, Spike TV has broadcast programming across the United States and around the world that features a number of different dramatic shows, reality programs, sitcoms and more. Originally billed as the first television network for men, the audience of Spike TV is essentially split right down the middle, with 45 percent of its viewers being women and 55 percent being men.
Spike TV traces its history back to 1983, when it was originally launched as The Nashville Network (TNN). At first, TNN broadcast television programs centered around “country living” and country music, and much of its programming came straight from the theme park Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee. NASCAR racing, country music and reruns of television shows such as Dallas and The Dukes of Hazard featured prominently on the network during the 1990s and early 2000s. As time went on, however, the network began to air an increasing number of what were regarded as “male-oriented” shows such as reruns of Baywatch and Star Trek: The Next Generation. By 2002, references to TNN as “The Nashville Network” and its later moniker “The National Network” had been dropped entirely, and the network began referring to itself as “The New TNN” as it moved away from its country programming roots.
In the late 1990s, both TNN and Country Music Television (CMT) ended up as a part of Viacom after the networks went through several changes in ownership. Viacom sought a new direction for TNN because it believed having two country-centric TV channels was one too many, hence the move toward more male-oriented programming in the early 2000s. In 2003, the channel was rebranded as Spike TV, billing itself as the first network entirely for men. A few lawsuits ensued from Spike Lee and Spike Jones Jr., who felt that Spike TV would gain unfairly from the use of the name Spike because of the association of the other two men from it. The lawsuits were settled after a few months, and the rebrand of TNN as Spike TV launched on August 11, 2003.
Since that time, Spike TV has continued to air a mix of rerun network shows and original programming. Notable events since its founding include its purchase of the cable syndication rights of the CSI TV drama franchise for nearly $2 million dollars per episode, which was a record amount paid for syndication at the time. The network also made headlines for securing the exclusive rights to air certain Star Trek franchise shows. Professional wrestling has also been a mainstay of the network, with Spike TV featuring matches from WWE, WCW and TNA during its history. Spike TV has also made a name for itself with some important community involvement such as the “True Dads” campaign of summer 2007 that encouraged fathers to take an active role in their children’s lives.
Strictly speaking, Spike TV has not launched any sister networks. However, as a part of Viacom Media Networks, it has relationships with many other networks owned by the brand. These networks include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land and Nickelodeon.
Original Spike TV Shows
As noted, Spike TV airs a mix of reruns and original programming. Some of the more well-known original programs aired by Spike TV include:
• Trucks! — Since 1999, this program has aired on what is now known as Spike TV. The program features automotive mechanics repairing and upgrading trucks, SUVs and similar vehicles.
• MANswers — This late-night comedy has aired on Spike TV since 2007. Directed mainly toward an audience of males aged 18–47, the program features funny questions and answers related to women, dating, firearms, getting out of deadly situations and other topics that might be viewed as “male-centric.”
• Game Trailers TV with Geoff Keighly — This show is centered around video games, and it features exclusive news on upcoming game releases, tours of programming facilities, interviews with game designers, video game trivia and much more. The program under its current name has aired on Spike TV since 2008, although it has existed since 2005 when it was launched with the name Game Head.
• Impact Wrestling — This is the wrestling program featuring matches from the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling league. Formerly aired on Fox Sports Net, the program began running on Spike TV in 2005.
• Jail — This reality TV series follows individuals who have been arrested from their booking through their imprisonment. It began in 2007.