Early HistoryThe channel's origins date back to 1981, when the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based United Video Satellite Group (distributors of the WGN-TV satellite feed) began offering what was simply called the "Electronic Programming Guide" to cable companies. It was a simple thing: a computer (an Atari 130XE with EPROM chips in some cases, an Amiga 1000 running off a diskette in others) located at the cable headend/office would be fed listings information from a central mainframe at the UVSG offices in Tulsa via a C-band satellite feed. The computer would disseminate the info and display it as pertaining to the local cable lineup. Text ads (programmed in locally) would occasionally appear, and most often a local radio station would play underneath. In 1988, UVSG decided to start using Amiga 2000s exclusively and launched a national service dubbed the Prevue Guide. Now, the listings took up the bottom half of the screen, with the top displaying promos for shows on other networks, pay-per-view films, services offered by the cable company, and Prevue-produced segments such as "Prevue Tonight". 1991 saw the launch of Sneak Prevue, which focused exclusively on PPV movies and events, utilizing the same general setup as Prevue (C-band feed and an Amiga), only with the addition of LaserDiscs to play movie trailers from.
1993 saw another technical/graphical upgrade and a rebrand to the Prevue Channel. As the decade wore on, however, the Amiga-based infrastructure was in dire need of replacement (Amigas were crash-prone, frequently leaving viewers with a "Guru Meditation" error on the screen; after Commodore went bust in 1994, Prevue had to start salvaging from second-hand models to keep the current ones running). Meanwhile, UVSG was bought out by Gemstar International, inventors of VCR Plus and owners of TV Guide magazine, in 1998. This resulted in a rebrand to TV Guide Channel in 1999; shortly afterwards, the Amigas were phased out in favor of custom built Windows NT units.
Around this time, Network Decay kicked in, partially because of cable and satellite companies were deploying their own interactive guide services on their set-top boxes (ironically, with much of them having involvement from UVSG/TV Guide), rendering the TV Guide Channel (later renamed the TV Guide Network) redundant. As a result, over the 2000s the network came to focus on celebrity gossip, red-carpet events and reruns. (Sneak Prevue ceased operations in 2002, thanks to the decline of the PPV market in favor of video on demand, as well as the PPV market being dominated by one company, iNDemand.)
In 2009, Lionsgate acquired TV Guide Network from Macrovision, splitting it away from its namesake magazine. Four years later, CBS would acquire a minority interest in TV Guide Network in 2013, and the network would rebrand as TVGN. The intent of the rebrand was to de-emphasize the network's connection with the magazine, though TVGN largely maintained its focus on celebrities and gossip, including the network's red carpet coverage, and the on-screen scrolling TV listings. As part of the rebrand, Big Brother After Dark, a spinoff of the U.S version of the show, was moved over from Showtime 2, and the network would add same-day/week repeats of CBS's reality and soap operas.
As PopTVGN would finally drop the scrolling listings permanently in late 2014note in time to adopt its current branding, Pop, in January 2015. The new branding would shift its focus towards "celebrating fandom", with one of its inaugural original programs being a reality show about New Kids on the Block.In addition to more reruns from the CBS libraries, Pop would also air general entertainment programming, such as CBC comedy Schitt's Creek, and Professional Wrestling from the Las Vegas-based promotion Paragon in 2015 and national promotion Impact Wrestling from 2016-2019. note Schitt's Creek in particular would become the arguable flagship show and its acclaim would help drive audiences to the fledgling network. Pop also became notable in 2019 for being the first traditional terrestrial network to pick up a series that began on a streaming platform (One Day at a Time from Netflix).
CBS would acquire full ownership of Pop in 2019, as Lionsgate shifted its focus towards its core film business and Starz. News and press releases indicate plans for CBS to lean into more comedy programming and to leverage its library programming. Most recently, it was announced that next-day reruns of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert would air exclusively on Pop.
To this day, there exists an enthusiast community of Prevue fans who attempt to salvage as much of the old Amiga hardware and software as possible; their forum is located here, and the Oddity Archive has created a video on the subject.