aka: Prime Time Entertainment Network
Warner Bros. and Chris-Craft/United Television's first attempt at creating a broadcast network resulted in the Prime Time Entertainment Network, or PTEN. This was an ad hoc network of independent stations that was intended to standardize the scheduling and marketing of Warner's first-run syndicated dramas. In truth, it was actually little more than a syndication package like Operation Prime Time of the 1970s and '80s, the Paramount service that was planned to launch in 1978, but was scuttled (the Star Trek series intended for that evolved into Star Trek The Motion Picture), or Universal's Action Pack, a collection of shows sold as a block to the participating stations. Warner hoped that it would eventually grow into a true network, but that was not to be.PTEN had three strikes against it going in, which all but scuttled the intent to turn it into a real network:
- The participating stations generally got to choose when on their schedule the PTEN programs would air. Presumably, an interest in getting a return on their investment would lead to scheduling the programs in Prime Time broadcast slots, but this was not always the case, as fans of the nascent network's offerings would soon find out.
- A completely different division of Warner was already in the process of setting up the network which would become The WB.
- Chris-Craft, a boat maker which happened to get into television (by way of United Television/BHC Communications), decided to hitch its wagon to Paramount Pictures and, with their stations and those of Paramount note as the nucleus, launched UPN, which ate up PTEN's prime time slots and pushed their shows into the Friday Night Death Slot, late night or Saturday afternoons, which were among the busiest timeslots for syndicated programming in The Nineties.