Last updated

Founded 1996;22 years ago (1996)
Defunct 2001;17 years ago (2001)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California , United States
Key people
Stephen Weiswasser [1]
Owner SBC
BellSouth Corp.
Ameritech Corp.
GTE Corp. (later Verizon Communications)
Disney Televenture

Americast (stylized americast) was a cable alternative broadcast joint venture of five telephone companies: SBC, BellSouth Corporation, Ameritech Corporation, GTE Corporation (later part of Verizon by 2000) and SNET. The Walt Disney Company's Disney Televenture subsidiary was a programming partner. [2] [1] No standard delivery technologies was chosen for Americast with cable, direct-broadcast satellite and microwave as options for partner companies to use. [3]

A Joint Venture (JV) is a business entity created by two or more parties, generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks, and shared governance. Companies typically pursue joint ventures for one of four reasons: to access a new market, particularly emerging markets; to gain scale efficiencies by combining assets and operations; to share risk for major investments or projects; or to access skills and capabilities.

AT&T American multinational conglomerate holding company

AT&T Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's largest telecommunications company, the second largest provider of mobile telephone services, and the largest provider of fixed telephone services in the United States through AT&T Communications. Since June 14, 2018, it is also the parent company of mass media conglomerate WarnerMedia, making it the world's largest media and entertainment company in terms of revenue. As of 2018, AT&T is ranked #9 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

BellSouth, LLC is an American telecommunications holding company based in Atlanta, Georgia. BellSouth was one of the seven original Regional Bell Operating Companies after the U.S. Department of Justice forced the American Telephone & Telegraph Company to divest itself of its regional telephone companies on January 1, 1984.



Americast was founded in early 1996 by SBC, BellSouth, Ameritech and GTE. [2] Southern New England Telecommunications later joined Americast in June 1996. [4]

Southern New England Telecommunications

Southern New England Telecommunications Corporation (SNET) started operations in 1986 as the holding company for The Southern New England Telephone Company. Prior to 1986, The Southern New England Telephone Company had been a minority holding of AT&T until February 1986, when AT&T withdrew its 23% holding. SNET then became its own company, operating a telecommunications sales division, Sonecor Systems Division, which began operations on January 1, 1983 and sold equipment in competition with AT&T before the Bell System divestiture. SNET also operated SNET America, which sold long distance services to Southern New England Telephone customers within Connecticut.

In August 1996, Americast made an order with Zenith Electronics for $1 billion worth of digital set-top boxes. [3] In July 1997, the company eliminated its programming and marketing departments outsourcing to Disney Televenture. By this time, Ameritech had built Americast systems in 29 locations. [2]

Zenith Electronics, LLC is a research and development company that develops ATSC and digital rights management technologies. It is owned by the South Korean company LG Electronics. Zenith was previously an American brand of consumer electronics. It originally was a manufacturer of radio and television receivers and other consumer electronics, and was headquartered in Glenview, Illinois. After a series of layoffs, the consolidated headquarters moved to Lincolnshire, Illinois. For many years, their famous slogan was "The quality goes in before the name goes on." LG Electronics acquired a controlling share of Zenith in 1995; Zenith became a wholly owned subsidiary in 1999. Zenith was the inventor of subscription television and the modern remote control, and the first to develop High-definition television (HDTV) in North America.

By 2000, the Americast system was considered to be too costly to run. Ameritech owner, SBC, put Ameritech's Americast unit up for sale in early 2000. SNET was expected to discontinue the Americast service in Connecticut in 2001. [5] In May 2001, Ameritech's Americast unit was sold to Wide Open West, LLC. [6] Right before Americast was discontinued, it was available in the following areas, among others: Cerritos, CA (a suburb of Los Angeles), Ventura County, CA, Hartford, New Haven, Chicago, Columbus, suburban Cleveland, suburban Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Orlando, Miami, Vestavia Hills, AL (a suburb of Birmingham), and the Tampa Bay Area of Florida.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California and the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fourth largest in North America ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 388,072, making it the 51st-largest city in the United States, and the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. The city anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States.

See also

Tele-TV was a media and technology company formed by Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis, and Creative Artists Agency in February 1995. The company, based in Reston, Virginia, USA, set out to design a pioneering interactive TV service with a set-top box that would allow customers to view video on demand over copper phone wires. Thomson Consumer Electronics was to build the set-top boxes. Ex-CBS chief and former president of Sony Howard Stringer was hired as CEO, with ex-Fox executive Sandy Grushow as president. Michael Ovitz, then head of CAA, was to play a role as deal-maker between Hollywood and the company. The company reportedly spent US$500 million before halting operations in early 1997, although some subscribers had services through the end of 2001.

GTE mainStreet, also known as mainStreet USA, was one of the first interactive television projects.

DirecTV direct broadcast satellite & streaming TV company

DirecTV is an American direct broadcast satellite service provider based in El Segundo, California and is a subsidiary of AT&T. Its satellite service, launched on June 17, 1994, transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States, Latin America, Americas and the Caribbean. Its primary competitors are Dish Network and cable television providers. On July 24, 2015, after receiving approval from the United States Federal Communications Commission and United States Department of Justice, AT&T acquired DirecTV in a transaction valued at $67.1 billion.

Related Research Articles

The Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC) are the result of United States v. AT&T, the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust suit against the former American Telephone & Telegraph Company. On January 8, 1982, AT&T Corp. settled the suit and agreed to divest its local exchange service operating companies. Effective January 1, 1984, AT&T Corp.'s local operations were split into seven independent Regional Bell Operating Companies known as Baby Bells.

Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service

Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS), formerly known as Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and also known as Wireless Cable, is a wireless telecommunications technology, used for general-purpose broadband networking or, more commonly, as an alternative method of cable television programming reception.

AT&T Teleholdings, Inc., formerly known as Ameritech Corporation, is an American telecommunications company that arose out of the 1984 AT&T divestiture. Ameritech was one of the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies that was created following the breakup of the Bell System. Ameritech was acquired by SBC Communications in 1999 which subsequently acquired AT&T Corporation in 2006, becoming the present-day AT&T Inc.

The Pacific Bell Telephone Company is a telephone company that provides telephone service in California. The company is owned by AT&T Inc. through AT&T Teleholdings. The company has been known by a number of names during which its service area has changed. The formal name of the company from the 1910s through the 1984 Bell System divestiture was The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. As of 2002, the name “Pacific Bell” is no longer used in marketing, Pacific Bell is still the holder of record for the infrastructure of cables and fiber through much of California.

Tele-Communications Inc.

Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI) was a cable television provider in the United States, and for most of its history was controlled by Bob Magness and John Malone.

Houston Cellular was a Houston-based cell phone company which provided AMPS and D-AMPS (TDMA) service in the Greater Houston area. It was formed in 1983 and was operated as a partnership between LIN Broadcasting Corp., Mobile Communication Corp. of America and BellSouth Co. Its headquarters were located in Houston, Texas.

Cellular One is the trademarked brand name that licenses services used by several cellular service providers in the United States. The brand was sold to Trilogy Partners by AT&T in 2008 shortly after AT&T had completed its acquisition of Dobson Communications. Cellular One was originally the trade name of one of the first mobile telephone service providers.

The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point. This effectively took the monopoly that was the Bell System and split it into entirely separate companies that would continue to provide telephone service. AT&T would continue to be a provider of long distance service, while the now-independent Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) would provide local service, and would no longer be directly supplied with equipment from AT&T subsidiary Western Electric.

The New York Telephone Company (NYTel) was organized in 1896, taking over the New York City operations of the American Bell Telephone Company.

Ameritech Mobile Communications, LLC was the first company in the United States to provide cellular mobile phone service to the general public. Cell service became publicly available in Chicago on October 13, 1983. The company was a division of Ameritech which, as of January 1, 1984, was the holding company of Illinois Bell, Michigan Bell, Wisconsin Bell, Ohio Bell, and Indiana Bell, which provides landline service to the Great Lakes region. From around 1986, Cincinnati Bell held a 45% stake in the company. Originally named Ameritech Mobile Communications, it later became known as Ameritech Cellular.

AT&T Internet Services is a trade name for several affiliated companies. AT&T Internet Services provides the consumer web portal and information service.

Disney Regional Entertainment was the subsidiary of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts which developed and operated unique local entertainment concepts. It previously operated the Club Disney, DisneyQuest, and ESPN Zone chain entertainment concepts.

ABC Family Worldwide is a subsidiary of the Disney–ABC Television Group that is responsible for the operations of the U.S. cable network Freeform. The company was originally formed as International Family Entertainment, a spin-off of the Christian Broadcasting Network's cable network The Family Channel.

Disney–ABC Television Group The Walt Disney Company television properties subsidiary

ABC, Inc. doing business as the Disney–ABC Television Group (Disney–ABC), formerly known as Capital Cities/ABC Inc. and ABC Group, is a subsidiary holdings company that manages all of The Walt Disney Company's Disney- and ABC-branded television properties. The group includes the ABC Television Network, as well as its 50% stake in A&E Television Networks and its 80% controlling stake in ESPN, Inc. While holding the controlling stake in ESPN, Disney–ABC and ESPN operate as separate units of Disney Media Networks. Post-Fox acquisition it will be renamed Walt Disney Television chaired by Peter Rice.


Dex One Corporation was an American marketing company providing online, mobile and print search marketing via their website, print yellow pages directories and pay-per-click ad networks in the U.S.

Advanced Mobile Phone Service, Inc. was a subsidiary of AT&T prior to the Bell System Divestiture. Abbreviated AMPS, the company was created in 1978 to build and operate the new Advanced Mobile Phone System, also abbreviated AMPS. AMPS was developed by Bell Labs to replace older, severely limited radiophone services, such as IMTS. AMPS was one of the first modern cellular phone systems, which remained in operation until 2008.

Mark Handler was a top executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Walt Disney Internet Group and acted as managing director over their international internet expansion operations. He expanded operations in China, Japan, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. Handler also served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Disney Channel and under his tenure grew the subscription service from 1 million subscriptions to 15 million subscriptions. Handler was also the president of Disney Televentures. In addition, he currently is on the Colorado Technical University Board of Trustees and serves on the board of the online digital media company called Direct Sports Network.


  1. 1 2 BATES, JAMES (April 2, 1996). "Wedding Bells : THE BIZ : Joined Firms May Push to Marry Video Ventures Too". Los Angeles Times . Times Mirror Company . Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Dempsey, John (July 27, 1997). "Americast slimming". Variety . Cahners Business Information . Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  3. 1 2 Hofmeister, Sallie (August 23, 1996). "Americast Places $1-Billion Order for Set-Top Boxes". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  4. Landler, Mark (June 19, 1996). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS;Partner Joins Disney-Backed Phone Group In TV Venture". The New York Times . The New York Times Company . Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  5. Jones, Tim (September 1, 2000). "Americast Future Is Far From Clear". Chicago Tribune . Tribune Publishing . Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  6. Alexander, Delroy (May 25, 2001). "Ameritech sells cable unit to Colorado firm". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved March 11, 2013.