Rising from the ashes of The Nashville Network
in 2001, The National Network was Viacom
's cable network that existed to show reruns of syndicated
television series from the last fifteen years as well as movies from the Paramount
vault. The network marketed itself as "The New TNN
The National Network relied heavily on Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. The network ran the show twice a day (once in primetime and again in afternoons), showed 6+ hour Sunday afternoon marathons and 4 hour Friday night marathons, as well as a back-to-back showings on Sunday nights. Rumor has it the network paid over $1,000,000 per episode for the series. In 2004 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was to join the lineup, followed by Star Trek: Voyager in 2006. Four of the original Star Trek movies also saw heavy rotation on the schedule: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
When it comes to movies, The National Network had the rights to broadcast some of the most highly praised and critically acclaimed films of the past twenty years. Stay tuned, lucky viewer, for Robocop, Kickboxer, Robocop 2, Kickboxer 3, and then another showing of Robocop. On occassion they also show the Godfather trilogy.
When the network wasm't showing Star Trek or a movie, chances are it was showing a rerun of Baywatch (which is also featured in the occassional marathon), Real TV, Blind Date, or some holdover programming from its Nashville Network days, such as a rodeo, hunting show, or tractor pull.
The National Network often infuriated viewers by placing a black bar in the bottom 1/8 of the screen, causing the show being broadcast to be slightly squished to fit the remaining 7/8 of screen space. The black bar was used to show the name of the show currently on as well as what's coming up next. The black bar was evil.
In April 2003 the network announced it was rebranding itself as the first network for men (an opposite of the Lifetime network, it seems). Spike TV was supposed to launch on June 16, 2003 with a programming schedule aimed at men, beer, sports, and scantily-clad women. but filmmaker Spike Lee stepped in and sued the network, citing that it infringed upon his name. The case went to court, Spike TV won, and the network launched in August 2003.