8-Year-Old CN8 Won’t Stop at 8 Million

For CN8: The Comcast Network, eight — as in 8 million subscribers — is not enough.

Expect to see steady spurts of growth for the now 8-year-old channel, Comcast Cable Eastern Division president and CN8 founder Mike Doyle said.

CN8 is now in 6.4 million homes from Washington, D.C., to northern New England. Entry into some 250,000 Comcast homes in the Pittsburgh DMA early next year will begin a march toward the 8 million customer level by the end of 2005.

“I think we can get to 10 million by filling in gaps within our existing footprint and by going toward the other coast,” Doyle said.

Launching in 1 million homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1996, CN8 began with Real Life with Mary Amoroso and One on One with Steve Adubato. Shortly thereafter, It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle and Lou Tilley’s Sports Connection bowed and still hold prominent positions.

Along the way, CN8 — swelled by 600,000 Cablevision Systems Corp. subscribers in northern New Jersey, its only non-Comcast viewers — expanded its programming slate to include 12 daily shows and seven weekly series, such as Backstage With Barry Nolan and Let’s Cook With Paul Dillon.

Through it all, CN8 has kept to its mission of providing a platform to make national issues relevant to regional audiences, proud papa Doyle said.

“I came up with the idea in 1995 to use Comcast’s fiber and our resources to create high-quality, regional programming instead of underfunded local-origination programming,” he said. “It was also a way to put a face on a cable company that viewers were sending bills to.”

Along with talk and studio shows, CN8 offers news programming and sports, from minor-league baseball and college teams to high-school football, with strong regional appeal.

CN8’s also claimed some industry acclaim: 182 Emmy nominations and 28 Emmys. “At the Mid-Atlantic [chapter for the Emmys], we moved from the last table in the last row the first year to the front row, where people hear the Comcast name all night long,” Doyle said.

(The success also inspired Comcast to invest in new programming for its local-origination channel in Denver, rebranded Comcast Entertainment Television and airing high-school sports games, family movies and a morning yoga show.)

Going forward, future CN8 market additions should be cost effective because such programming as CN8 Money Matters Today (8-8:30 p.m.), Adubato’s (8:30-9 p.m.), Lynn Doyle’s (9-10 p.m.) and Tilley’s (11-midnight) shows run across the network’s entire footprint, Doyle said.