“Fatality.” —Mortal Kombat

Round 2 is already off to a killer start, as last week’s showdown resulted in the death of a TITAN. That’s right, it was a close yet decisive contest (and arguably one between apples and oranges), but only ONE male-skewing cable channel emerged victorious:

R.I.P. Comedy Central. Oh but hey, we got some GREAT comments:

sakuramankai: “Syfy is just as funny, or even funnier, than Comedy Central. Sharktopus > Jon Stewart.”

Summerqueen: “Gotta be Syfy. I don’t have a sense of humor, so… It’s a no-brainer.”

Cynycal: “Even though I hate to say it because they’ve betrayed me over and over and insist on showing professional wrestling… Syfy ((shudder))”

TAKE NOTE, Syfy executives: You may have won this round, but a huge number of your supporters continue to feel burned by your rebranding and emphasis on non sci-fi fare. You’re basically about one cooking show away from oblivion!

Now onto the next matchup…

This week’s challenge promises to be about as dramatic as your average basic cable procedural!

Background: USA was born way back in 1971 during the weird early years of satellite TV, when a channel could get away with only airing stuff at 5pm on weekdays and broadcasting local sports games. Like many early channels, it was scooped up by a cable conglomerate, retrofitted with additional content, and then purchased by a series of corporations until eventually settling in with NBC Universal. In the 1980s it became the home of a number of syndicated game shows, Hanna-Barbara cartoons, and blocks of movies, but in the 1990s it jumped ahead of the curve by producing its own original content (to air alongside professional wrestling), a strategy that continues to work for it today.

Original Programming: Some of USA’s earlier offerings included genre-heavy fare like The Dead Zone, The 4400, G vs E, Duckman, La Femme Nikita, Silk Stalkings, Weird Science, Monk, and Pacific Blue. But these days the USA slate is more procedural in nature, with series like Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Suits, In Plain Sight, Royal Pains, and the #1 most Matthew Bomer-starringest show on television, White Collar.

Reruns: Hope you like Law & Order! Other typical offerings include CSI and NCIS.

Why It’s The Best: In recent years USA has really nailed its in-house mandate that all shows feature blue skies and beautiful people. Also, did I mention USA is the home of Matthew Bomer?

Why It’s The Worst: USA might have a style that works for it, but that style is still not for everyone.

Background: The success of Ted Turner’s original network (TBS) led him to start up a number of sister stations, including TNT in 1988. Its original purpose seemed to function as place to air spillover from TBS, mostly focusing on old movies, professional wrestling, and NFL games. Eventually, TNT began exploring original content with shows like the awesome MonsterVision with Joe Bob Briggs, the final season of Babylon 5, and Witchblade. Then, in the early 2000s, TNT started emphasizing its “We Know Drama” angle by picking up tons of serialized dramas and procedurals and eventually producing several of its own.

Original Programming: The current TNT lineup includes several well-regarded hits, including The Closer and Leverage as well as relative newcomers Franklin & Bash and Rizzoli & Isles. Its acquisition of the critical hit Southland only upped its critical bona fides and last summer’s alien invasion serial Falling Skies brought TNT the closest it’s ever been to watercooler television. An upcoming reboot of Dallas may continue the channel’s winning streak.

Reruns: TNT’s reruns lineup is absolutely stacked, with hit procedurals like Bones, Law & Order, and CSI:NY, but it also boasts several cult faves like Charmed, Smallville, Angel, and Supernatural.

Why It’s the Best: Much like with USA, there’s almost always something very watchable on TNT at any given moment.

Why It’s the Worst: Except for Falling Skies and Southland, much of TNT’s lineup seems disinterested in long-term storytelling. Procedurals are fine, but only in the way that bathroom readers are fine. Sometimes we want novels!

Official TV.com Verdict:
This is a tough one—Both networks have their strengths, but their weaknesses are nearly identical. But I think I’ll give the edge to TNT for airing Supernatural.

But now it’s your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: USA or TNT? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Click below to see the full tournament bracket:

Note: Because we started with an odd number of channels, we gave some of the bigger channels a first-round bye.

Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America’s Got Cable archives.

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