Breaking Out From the Pack

Every so often, magic happens. Networks that were languishing suddenly find a spark that lights up other parts of the schedule. Or a brand new channel challenges the notion that all the good ideas have been done. On these pages, B&C spotlights 10 "emerging" networks that are making viewers take notice.

Women's networks Lifetime and Oxygen are growing ratings with fresh slates of shows—and reviving their cache with viewers. Under new leadership, the family-friendly Hallmark Channel is ramping up original movies and powering up its marketing.

Several established networks are enjoying revivals, including Rainbow Media's AMC and the Independent Film Channel, both boasting ratings and creative successes.

Showtime, which has long suffered as the second pay network behind HBO, is finally basking in the spotlight with a year-round slate of popular originals.

Smaller networks are gaining ground as well. After clawing for distribution for three years, the independent Gospel Music Channel is finally rolling out its gospel and soul programming on major cable systems and in top markets.

And while they claim a big media parent in Discovery Communications, three of the company's smaller networks—Military Channel, Discovery Times and HD Theater—are quietly adding more originals and steadily building their audiences.