The channel which eventually became Speed Channel was launched on New Year's Day 1996, by Roger L. Werner Jr., E. Roger Williams, Nickolas Rhodes and Robert Scanlon under the name Speedvision. Ownership included Cox Communications, Continental Cable and AT&T. Under their management, Speedvision became the fastest growing cable network of all time while delivering the highest male viewing audience per household of any cable or broadcast network in existence.
In the summer of 2001, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation purchased one-third of Speedvision. In August 2001, they negotiated to acquire the stakes owned by Cox and Comcast, thus giving them majority ownership. Fox leveraged the network as a negotiating tool for NASCAR television rights which were split with NBC. The plan was to morph the channel into a 24-hour NASCAR network. This plan was ultimately shelved in the fall due to Fox management's unwillingness to place NASCAR races on the channel.
On February 11, 2002 at 7:59 p.m. ET, Speedvision relaunched as Speed Channel. The first program of the new format was a special launch show and 2002 NASCAR preview focusing on Speedweeks 2002. News Corp.'s Fox had a year-old relationship as a NASCAR broadcaster, many NASCAR shows began airing on Speed Channel, a move that was unpopular with some of the network's viewers. However, with the increased NASCAR programming, viewership is at all-time highs, with the channel being added to many regular cable lineups. Programming Notes
In its nearly four-year existence under its new name, Speed has made an effort to show more live races. In 2001, 2002, and 2006, Speed broadcasted select Champ Car races. In October 2002, Speed bought out the remaining year of ESPN's three-year contract for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and in February 2003, began showing live exclusive coverage of the series. The network's coverage of the truck series' Florida Dodge Dealers 250 for February 18, 2005 scored a Nielsen rating of 2.1, the highest-rated program in the network's history. Another Speed staple is WindTunnel with Dave Despain, a live call-in show that has been on the network since February 2003.
Since its inception in 1996, there has been a racing series which was created by Werner, Williams and Scanlon, named after the network-the SPEED World Challenge, formerly named, not surprisingly, the Speedvision World Challenge. Speed also runs a very short segment during its commercial breaks, titled, "My First Car", in which celebrities like Ron Howard, Pierce Brosnan, and George Lucas (who has a great love for Fiat) and Speed Channel viewers talk about the first set of wheels they ever drove.
Speed made news with the 2005 firing of network president Jim Liberatore, who had been with the network since FOX bought it in 2001 when it was still Speedvision, reportedly because Liberatore had wanted to reduce the number of NASCAR-related shows on the network, and the network brass wanted more NASCAR-related programming. Liberatore is now attempting to start a new network called The Racing Network, which will be closer to the original Speedvision. In 2002, Speedvision had collaborated with Disney, causing the channel to resemble the Disney Channel in some ways, making the channel targeted for younger viewers in the pre-teen and teenage. This angered some network viewers, who feared that Speed was close to becoming an all-NASCAR channel. However, NASCAR programming continues to draw viewers to the network. Some Speed viewers have suggested a second channel for non-NASCAR programming, just like ESPN has with ESPN2. Distribution
Speed is primarily a satellite and digital cable network, although many areas in the U.S. do have the network in their basic cable packages. It is also available in Canada and in Brazil. Racing coverage, particularly that of Formula One, is sometimes subject to blackout outside the U.S. In the spring of 2006, Speed launched Speed Mobile, where fans can download ringtones and wallpapers made by Speed to their cell phones. Name Change
In late 2005, Speed Channel re-branded themselves as SPEED, canceling some TV shows including NASCAR Nation. Sometime in 2007, the change became official, as the word "channel" was dropped from its logo. High-Definition
On February 8, 2008, Speed launched a high definition simulcast and DirecTV was one of the first to carry this new channel. Recently, Comcast has added the channel in Chicago and few of its markets. Latin American Service
Speed's Latin American channel has live coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide Series, Rolex Sports Car Series, American Le Mans Series and A1 Grand Prix. Also shows delayed coverage of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, World Series by Renault and NASCAR Mexico. Other programming includes highlights shows of Australia's V8 Supercars, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, British F3, FIA GT, AMA Supercross and Argentine TC 2000 and Turismo Carretera, and regular programs such as Grand Prix On Track, Grand Prix Story, Unique Whips, Tuner Mania, Pinks and Monster Jam. List of Speed Channel Programs
101 Cars You Must Drive
Barrett-Jackson LIFE on the BLOCK
Chop Cut Rebuild
Drag Race High
Dream Car Garage
Ferrari Legends and Passions (Ferrari Leggenda E Passione)
Formula 1 Debrief
Forza Motorsport Showdown
Go or Go Home
Hod Rod Television
Inside Grand Prix
Livin' the Low Life
Lucas Oil on the Edge
NASCAR Victory Lane
PINKS All Out
PINKS All Outtakes
SPEED Channel Test Drive
Street Tuner Challenge
Survival of the Fastest
The Speed Report
This Week in NASCAR
Two Guys Garage
WindTunnel with Dave Despain
Wrecked - Life In The Crash Lane
You need to be a member of SPEED TV Group to add comments!