The Prevue Channel (initially known as as Prevue Guide in 1988, Prevue Channel in 1993, TV Guide Channel in 1999, TV Guide Network in 2007, shortened to TVGN in 2013, now rebranded to Pop in 2015) was a network founded by United Video Satellite Group in 1988. Prevue was originally launched as the Electronic Program Guide in 1981 as a barker channel service, which provided a display of localized channel and program listings for cable providers, eventually being rebranded many different times beginning with the Prevue name in 1988, followed by the TV Guide Channel in 1999 thanks to UVSG's acquisition of the TV Guide entertainment magazine in 1998, then under different variations throughout the years until early-2015 when it was rebranded once again as Pop, which is currently now operated by ViacomCBS.
1981-88: as the Electronic Program Guide
Prevue began in 1981 under the Electronic Program Guide name. The channel operated as a simple electronic program guide application initially running on the Apple II, then switched to the TexScan, Atari 130XE and Amiga 1000 platforms around 1983. The software could display the date and time, and listings throughout four hours of that day's program and channel listings. In 1986, the cable company could optionally set a title that would display at the top of the channel and advertisements in the form of text advertisements that would occasionally appear after each roll, a full-screen graphic ad, or via a text crawl at the bottom of the screen. Since the channel was operated visually, cable operators could use a separate audio source for the channel, typically from a local FM radio station or a cable television audio provider, such as the Cable Radio Network.
Multiple versions of the Electronic Program Guide software were produced and offered to cable companies around this period. The earliest instance was in 1981 on the Apple II, with EPG Jr. and other variations introduced in 1985. The EPG Jr. relied on the Atari 130XE and 600XL platforms, while other versions were produced for the TexScan character generator and Amiga 1000 platforms, sometimes referred to as EPG Sr.. These versions of the software relied on a 2400 baud data stream originating from Tulsa, Oklahoma and provided by United Video and WGN. The listings in the data were cherry-picked to fit what the cable provider provided. To indicate these listings being received, a dot would constantly blink right next to the time on the top of the guide, unofficially referred to as 'Blinky.'
1988-99: as Prevue (Guide)
In 1988, United Video Holdings renamed their Trakker, Inc. under Prevue Networks, inc. Following this, the Electronic Program Guide software would continue to be updated and eventually rebranded as Prevue Guide. The software would move from the Amiga 1000 to the 2000, and would provide a split-screen view, providing a video feed on the top and the listings on the bottom, in a style similar to the Electronic Program Guide. The audio feed was provided through a C-band satellite feed. Separate sub carriers were used to separate the video, audio, and data feeds. The software was operated in a similar way, however could also show custom advertisements and promos over the video feed. On occasion, a portion of the screen could be covered with a brush and provide particular information about the program. Along with this, the software could switch between three different audio channels (Left, Right, Background Audio), depending on which portion of the screen the program is displayed on.
The launch of Prevue Guide led to the launch of various different programs that would play on the channel alongside advertisements, such as Prevue Tonight, which was similar to the split-screen video feed but would consist of cherry-picked programs that would air on that cable system, with a voiceover provided by Larry Hoefling, and Prevue Weather, a weather feed that was occasionally embedded after random timeslots.
In 1993, the software was upgraded to a grid layout, reminiscent of current-day cable set top box interactive program guides. Around this time, the Prevue Guide name would stick around with the channel up until mid-1993, when it was renamed to the Prevue Channel. The layout would stay about the same, however particular listings could be color-coded to differentiate different types of programming. This incarnation would also continue to carry the listing format, up until around 1998 or so. Throughout the next few years, more additions would come into the lineup, such as Intervue, which featured Jim Ferguson interviewing Hollywood's hottest stars, and FamilyVue, a similar program to Prevue Tonight however only featured family-oriented programming. In 1998, Prevue would shorten the Prevue Channel brand into simply Prevue. The rebrand moved the Prevue Weather segment above to the video feed, integrating it with national news headlines to form Prevue News & Weather, introduced graphics and logo based upon the 1997 trademark, introduced some new programming, such as Prevue Sports, Prevue This, and Prevue Revue. Prevue Tonight and FamilyVue would remain on the lineup, but both were renamed to Prevue TV and Prevue Family respectively.
1999-2015: as TV Guide Channel/Network
In 1998, UVSG acquired TV Guide from News Corporation for $800 million, which led to Prevue to relaunch as the TV Guide Channel at exactly 12:00 AM on February 1st, 1999. Several months after this name change, the existing Prevue Grid Amiga-based platform was phased out, replaced by a Windows NT-based system referred to as Hollywood. The software matched that in a similar look to that of the Motorola cable boxes of the time, which featured a similar layout. Initially, the guide would use images to describe particular listings, similar to the color-coded listings, however did not make it into the final version. Similar to earlier versions of the Amiga software, the Weather segment in the guide was reintroduced. Graphic ads would also move into the guide view around this time, occasionally consisting of programming that TV Guide Channel offered at the time. Sometimes, especially during red carpet awards ceremony coverage, the guide was changed to a translucent mini-guide that would only fill a small portion of the bottom portion of the screen.
Many fans of the Prevue Channel regard this relaunch as the beginning of TV Guide Channel's downhill climb. In 2001 and 2002, the channel's programming began to drastically change, and many were turned off by the half-hour advertisements and constant "celeb-talk". The channel began moving away from the previews and highlights that had been the foundation of Prevue Guide. The TV Guide Channel would later be renamed to TV Guide Network following multiple acquistions in the latter half of the millennium, beginning with Xperi (under the former name of the Rovi Corporation)'s acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8 billion, then Lionsgate in 2009, and finally ViacomCBS (pre-Viacom merger) in early 2019.
Discontinuation of the program guide
Later in the new millennium, the TV Guide Channel started to stray away from the scrolling listings, In 2009, Lionsgate would purchase TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online for $255 million, with plans to transform the network into a more entertainment-oriented channel, among these of which would be the discontinuation of the Hollywood-era guide, considering that the ways of getting TV listings have changed throughout the years, deeming the built-in program guide obsolete. The style of the guide would encounter various different facelifts throughout 2010, with a separate network being launched featuring a similar style as opposed to that of PC Prevue, which seemingly led to some cable providers to either drop the guide in favor for this, providing full-screen programming, or by moving it to their basic cable packages.
The guide service would continue to be operational under the Pop brand, before getting discontinued for good sometime in 2019.
The original Prevue logo trademark had a USPTO serial of 74108440.
An alternative version of the logo, without the guide text. This was used as the primary logo just after the "Prevue Guide" name was phased out, and is filed with the USPTO under serial 74491852.
This version of the logo, introduced around 1996, continues to use Prevue's typeface, but introduces an eye-like design around it. This logo has a USPTO serial of 75066864.
The final version of the Prevue logo used the same eye-like style with the Univers font instead of the original Prevue typeface. This logo has a USPTO serial of 75463258, and the trademark was not cancelled until 2006.
Larry Hoefling served as the voice over talent for the Prevue Channel from 1989 to 1993.