TBS hits 80 mil subs as cabler adds homes

First cable network to top 80-mil mark

NEW YORK — Turner Broadcasting has pulled in new subscribers to three of its cable networks, adding 1.5 million households each to Turner South and Cartoon Network and propelling TBS’ total to 80.8 million homes.

TBS becomes the first cable network ever to climb above the 80 million-subscriber mark.

The extra Turner South households come from distribution agreements with AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Comcast is also providing the added Cartoon Network subs.

TBS has a leg up on its mass-circulation cable-network rivals because a number of systems carry TBS on their lifeline-basic service, which typically provides only the over-the-air TV stations in their markets. No other cable net is afforded that privilege, a hangover from TBS’ previous status as a superstation.

Turner South, which runs lots of movies and firstrun regional series such as “Southern Living” and “Live at the Bluebird Cafe,” is restricted in its circulation to Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Southern nights

AT&T will launch Turner South on systems in Alabama and Georgia; Time Warner will add the network to more than 800,000 cable homes in all six Southern states. Turner South will pick up 435,000 new subscribers on Comcast systems in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. These additions pull Turner South’s subscriber total to about 3.3 million (out of a potential reach of 6.25 million throughout the six states).

For Cartoon Network, Comcast, which already feeds the channel to 4.2 million subscribers, will add another 1.5 million over the course of the next year. The 8-year-old toon web now reaches 64.6 million cable and satellite households in the U.S.

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