List of United States over-the-air television networks

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The five major U.S. English-language commercial broadcast network logos Broadcast-network-logos.jpg
The five major U.S. English-language commercial broadcast network logos

In the United States, for most of the history of broadcasting, there were only three or four major commercial national terrestrial networks. From 1946 to 1956, these were ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont (though the Paramount Television Network had some limited success during these years). From 1956 to 1986, the "Big Three" national commercial networks were ABC, CBS, and NBC (with a few limited attempts to challenge them, such as National Telefilm Associates [and its NTA Film Network] and the Overmyer Network). From 1954 to 1970, National Educational Television was the national clearinghouse for public TV programming; the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) succeeded it in 1970.

Contents

Today, more than fifty national free-to-air networks exist. Other than the non-commercial educational (NCE) PBS, which is composed of member stations, the largest terrestrial television networks are the traditional Big Three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). Many other large networks exist, however, notably Fox and The CW which air original programming for two hours each night instead of three like the original "Big Three" do, as well as syndication services like MyNetworkTV and Ion which feature reruns of recent popular shows with little to no original programming. Fox has just about the same household reach percentage as the Big Three, and is therefore often considered a peer to ABC, NBC, and CBS since it has also achieved equal or better ratings since the late 1990s; as of 2019, it also programs the equivalent amount of sports programming as the Big Three. Most media outlets now include Fox in what they refer to as the "Big Four" TV networks.

The transition to digital broadcasting in 2009 has allowed for television stations to offer additional programming options through digital subchannels, one or more supplementary programming streams to the station's primary channel that are achieved through multiplexing of a station's signal. A number of new commercial networks airing specialty programming such as movies, reruns of classic series and lifestyle programs have been created from companies like Weigel Broadcasting, Luken Communications and even owners of the major networks such as Fox Corporation (through the Fox Entertainment subsidiary), ViacomCBS, The Walt Disney Company (through the Walt Disney Television subsidiary) and Comcast (through the NBCUniversal subsidiary). Through the use of multicasting, there have also been a number of new Spanish-language and non-commercial public TV networks that have launched.

Free-to-air networks in the U.S. can be divided into five categories:

Each network sends its signal to many local affiliate television stations across the country. These local stations then air the "network feed," with programs broadcast by each network being viewed by up to tens of millions of households across the country. In the case of the largest networks, the signal is sent to over 200 stations. In the case of the smallest networks, the signal may be sent to just a dozen or fewer stations.

As of the 2016–17 television season, there are an estimated 118.4 million households in the U.S. with at least one TV set. [1]

Major

Table of networks

All of the networks listed below operate a number of terrestrial TV stations. In addition, several of these networks are also aired on pay television services.

American television networks
NameOwner (Subsidiary)Launch Date % of U.S. households reached# of households viewable# of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliatesLanguageDescriptionNotes
NBC NBCUniversal

(Comcast)

1939 [2] 97%114,848,000 226 ~338English Major commercial network
CBS ViacomCBS

(National Amusements)

1941 [2] 215 ~299
ABC Walt Disney Television

(The Walt Disney Company)

1948 [2] 229 ~266
Fox Fox Corporation 1986 [3] 223 ~202
The CW ViacomCBS (National Amusements) (50%)

WarnerMedia (AT&T) (50%)

2006 [4] 204 ~11
PBS Corporation for Public Broadcasting
(main steward, not owner, of service)
1969 [5] 96%113,664,000349~342 Public Non-Commercial
MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV, Inc.

(Fox Corporation)

2006 [4] 97% [6] 100,640,000 151 ~30Commercial/syndication service
MeTV Weigel Broadcasting 201084%99,456,000 176 29Classic series
PBS Kids PBS 199483%98,272,0002690Children's programming Non-Commercial
Court TV Katz Broadcasting, LLC

(E. W. Scripps Company)

201980.49%95,300,160True crime/court news
Antenna TV Nexstar Media Group 201180%94,720,000 114 27Classic series and films
Dabl ViacomCBS 201977.70%91,996,800Lifestyle
True Crime Network Tegna Inc. 201476%92,936,0006210True Crime/Investigation
Court TV Mystery Katz Broadcasting, LLC

(E. W. Scripps Company)

75%88,800,00012425Suspense/drama/women's interestLaunched as Escape
Grit 12016Action/westerns/men's Interest
Create American Public Television, WGBH-TV, & WNET 200686%87,616,0002381Public TV/instructional Non-Commercial
Laff Laff Media, LLC

(E. W. Scripps Company)

201574%11122Comedy
This TV Entertainment Studios 2008 89 29Classic series and films
Bounce TV Bounce Media LLC

(Katz Broadcasting, LLC)

(E. W. Scripps Company)

201173%86,432,000 112 11Black-centric programming
Ion Ion Media

(E. W. Scripps Company)

1998 (as Pax TV)72% (OTA only)85,248,000 109 25Commercial/syndication service
Comet Sinclair Broadcast Group (operator: MGM Television)201566%78,144,00010017Science Fiction
GetTV Sony Pictures Television

(Sony Corporation)

20146620Classic series and films
Circle Circle Media (Gray Television, Inc. & Opry Entertainment Group, Inc.)202062.60%195,620,130 96 0Country music/lifestyle
Heroes & Icons Weigel Broadcasting 201458%68,672,0005730Classic series and films
World American Public Television, WNET, WGBH Educational Foundation, & National Educational Telecommunications Association200759%68,617,0001600News and documentaries Non-Commercial
QVC Qurate Retail Group 198668,204,0004813Shopping
HSN Qurate Retail Group 1985 [7] 4146
Decades CBS Television Stations & Weigel Broadcasting 201557%67,488,000536Classic series and films/Historical documentaries
Movies! Fox Television Stations

Weigel Broadcasting

(both owning 50%)

2013 52 18Feature films
Cozi TV Comcast 56%66,304,0006631Classic series and films/Lifestyle
Fave TV ViacomCBS 202036.56%44,091,360140
Quest Tegna Inc. 201865%78,200,00029TBDAdventure programming
Start TV Weigel Broadcasting 46%54,464,000256Female lead Procedural dramas
Buzzr Fremantle & RTL Group 201545%53,280,0002037Game shows
Charge! Sinclair Broadcast Group 201743%50,912,000524Action series and films
Rev'n Reach High Media Group.

(Henry Luken III)

201442%49,728,000144Automotive
Retro TV Reach High Media Group

(Henry Luken III)

200534%40,256,000 15 83Commercial, reruns
TheGrio.tv Entertainment Studios 202133%39,072,000140Black-centric programming
QVC2 Qurate Retail Group 201331%36,704,000534Shopping
Localish ABC Owned Television Stations (Walt Disney Television)200925%29,600,00080Health/lifestyle
TBD Sinclair Television Group (Sinclair Broadcast Group)(operated by Jukin Media)2017505Talk/lifestyle
Heartland Reach High Media Group 201222.51%23,342,140244Country music/lifestyle
JewelryTV [8] [9] Multimedia Commerce Group, Inc.199322%26,048,000430Shopping
NewsNet NewsNet LLC201819.21%38,085,302033News
NHK World NHK 199818%20,934,000150Japanese news and information Non-Commercial
The Action Channel Reach High Media Group 201621,312,000238Men's Interest
Biz Television Center Post Media, Inc.200917%19,788,000534Business and financial information
WeatherNation TV WeatherNation, Inc (Performance One Media)2011207Weather
The Country Network TCN Country, LLC200920,128,000733Country music videos
Soul of the South Television SSN Media Group, LP201347African-American programming
Stadium Sinclair Television Group, Inc. (Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.) & Silver Chalice 201715%17,760,0003824Sports
FNX (First Nations Experience) San Bernardino Community College District 201112%14,208,000227Native American programming Non-Commercial
Newsmax TV Newsmax Media 201412% (OTA only)14,208,000023News/Documentaries/Conservative Talk
ShopHQ iMedia Brands Inc. (Comcast [12.5%])199111%13,024,00056Shopping
France 24 France Médias Monde (French Government)200610%11,640,0004International news Non-Commercial
MiND (MiND: Media Independence) WYBE 20079%10,467,00020Multicultural, educational
Shop LC Vaibhav Global 8%9,472,000042Shopping
AccuWeather Channel National Weather Service 20067%8,148,000134Weather
YTA, formerly Youtoo America, formerly America One Center Post Media198533%34,984,000134Sports/lifestyle
Classic Arts Showcase The Lloyd E. Rigler – Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation19946,978,00033Non-commercial performance art video clips Non-Commercial
The Family Channel ValCom & Reach High Media Group 2008 [10] 5%5,920,000421Classic series and filmsCalled My Family TV until 2014.
QVC3 Qurate Retail Group 201605Shopping
AMGTV Access Media Group20064.39%122 [11] General Entertainment
Doctor TV Doctor Television Channel, Inc. (MSGPR, Inc.)20142.22%6,942,039Health/lifestyle
DW-TV Deutsche Welle 19532%2,326,00051Multicultural Non-Commercial
Minnesota Channel Twin Cities Public Television 2005170 Educational television, public affairs, ethnic and local programming
Untamed Sports TVNone20081.29%4,021,177Sports/outdoors
Pursuit Channel Pursuit Media LLC0.23%716,644Sports and recreation
Frost Great Outdoors Reach High Media Group 20110.02%294,038Outdoors/shopping
Univision Univision Communications 1986 [12] 49%94,100,000 [13] 6226SpanishSpanish commercial
Estrella TV Estrella Media 200946%64,232,0003829
Telemundo Comcast 1984 [14] 61.60%92,476,4225446
UniMás Univision Communications 2002 [15] 43%59,600,000 [16] 3524
Azteca HC2 Holdings
(Azteca name & brand licensed from TV Azteca)
200132%37,248,0001428
LATV LATV Networks, LLC2716Bilingual (English/Spanish) entertainment
TeleXitos NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
(NBCUniversal Filmed and Entertainment)
201242.46%32,661,468251Spanish commercial
Mega TV Spanish Broadcasting System 20066%6,984,00051
TeLe-Romántica Dreamhouse Entertainment, LLC
(managed by TeVe-Romance)
20120.46%1,425,200Telenovelas/lifestyle
Inmigrante TV 20100%0Spanish political news and commentary
Multimedios Grupo Multimedios 19682.22%6,942,039Spanish commercial
Daystar Word of God Fellowship198256%64,736,0002080EnglishReligious
SonLife Broadcasting Network 201044%52,096,0002277
enlace [17] 200241%48,554,000379SpanishSpanish-language religious programming
TBN 197340%47,360,0003910EnglishReligious
Smile of a Child TV [17] Trinity Broadcasting Network 20053512Religious children's programming
Positiv [17] [18] (formerly JCTV and JUCE TV) Trinity Broadcasting Network 20033610Christian and Family-oriented movies
Hillsong Channel [17] Hillsong Church & Trinity Broadcasting Network 2002359Religious
3ABN 198427%31,968,0002133
3ABN Latino200320%23,680,0000124SpanishSpanish religious
Peace TV 200615%17,760,0007EnglishReligious (Islamic)
Dare to Dream Network 201013%15,392,000101Religious
3ABN Proclaim! 201013%15,392,000109
Almavision 20028%9,472,0009SpanishSpanish religious
TCT 19779%27,992,92488EnglishReligious
Cornerstone Television [19] 1979 [20] 7.94%24,796,415212
Hope Channel 20036.74%21,058,587015
The Walk TV 20107.52%23,506,549312
CTN 19795%5,780,000115
God TV 19955%5,780,00022
WHT 1985 [21] 5%5,780,00074
EWTN 19813.50%10,928,78117Religious (Catholic)
The Word Network 20001.5%1,734,0002Religious
TLN 19731%1,156,00010
Tvida Vision 20050.7%809,20002SpanishSpanish religious
The Worship Network [7] 19920.6%693,6001EnglishReligious
Tele Vida Abundante 19850.32%1,004,3553SpanishSpanish religious (Jewish)
GLC 19820.25%289,00050EnglishReligious

Information on networks

Conventional commercial networks

Minor and digital multicast commercial networks

Additionally, several of the cable-oriented theme channels (e.g. music or shopping channels) have obtained broadcast clearances, usually on low-power stations, in many markets. Among these are Home Shopping Network, and EVINE Live.

Spanish-language commercial networks

Additionally, Televisa, which distributes programming to Univision in the United States, operates in Mexico, but the company's networks (Canal de las Estrellas, Canal 5 and Nueve) have certain stations which can be received in parts of the U.S. located along and near the Mexican border, and likewise with the American networks have affiliates located or receivable in Mexican border cities. Some Mexican border stations (such as the former English-language ABC/Fox/CW affiliate XETV-TDT in Tijuana) who formerly maintained affiliations with U.S.-based English or Spanish networks, but mainly targeted their programming at their American border city (more than the Mexican metropolitan area that they are based in or merely licensed to).

Although the English-language programming model in the U.S. traditionally relies on the network and its stations handling programming responsibilities, Spanish language networks handle most of the responsibility for programming, while affiliates are limited to breakaways from the network feed to provide local news, public affairs and/or entertainment programming as well as local advertising. As such, all Spanish language networks primarily available on broadcast TV operate national feeds that are distributed to cable and satellite providers in markets without a local affiliate. Spanish-language independent stations also exist, though (particularly with the launch of Estrella TV), these are very limited and mainly exist in large markets.

Public/cultural/educational non-commercial

Religious

Several religious networks allow their broadcast affiliates to carry their programming out-of-pattern through clearance arrangements, notably TBN, 3ABN, Hope Channel and World Harvest Television.

Defunct networks

See also

Notes

  1. "Nielsen Estimates 118.4 Million TV Homes in the U.S. for the 2016-17 TV Season". www.nielsen.com.
  2. 1 2 3 Although CBS and NBC were founded in 1926 and 1927, respectively and ABC was founded in 1943, those companies did not begin continuous over the air TV broadcasting until 1939 (NBC), 1941 (CBS) and 1948 (ABC).
  3. 1 2 DuMont's relationship with the Fox network via Metromedia is disputed, with Fox being either a modern re-incarnation, or at least a linear descendant of the DuMont Television Network (via former DuMont subsidiary Metromedia) according to radio personality Clarke Ingram.
  4. 1 2 On January 24, 2006, CBS and Time Warner announced the merger of The WB and UPN, forming one larger network, The CW in late 2006. See The CW for more information. The CW and MyNetworkTV are also carried on cable-only channels and digital subchannels of many currently operating television stations of several different affiliations, ranging from current WB and Fox affiliates, to even NBC and CBS affiliates. The WB and UPN shut down on September 18, 2006 to merge into The CW. MyNetworkTV was created by the Fox Broadcasting Company to give programming to several Fox-owned UPN affiliates, upon the shutdown of UPN. MyNetworkTV transitioned from a commercial network to a syndication service in 2009.
  5. Although PBS was initially established in 1969, it assumed full-time broadcasts on October 5, 1970 to replace its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET).
  6. "'The Walking Dead' Sets Broadcast Syndication Pact with MyNetwork TV".
  7. 1 2 Network founded by Lowell "Bud" Paxson
  8. Jewelry Television has around three direct affiliates; most other stations carrying its programming are indirectly affiliated with the network through Shop at Home.
  9. Prior to its shutdown in 2008, Shop at Home only broadcast its programming overnights, and thus full-time affiliates of the network carried Jewelry Television during the daytime hours.
  10. "The Top 25 Digital Broadcast Networks". tvnewscheck.com. NewsCheckMedia. June 17, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  11. "Stations for Network – AMG TV". RabbitEars.Info. SatelliteGuys. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  12. Date at which the Spanish International Network (founded in 1962) was reorganized and became Univision.
  13. Univision. "Univision Network". Univision Corporate. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  14. NetSpan (founded in 1984) was reorganized and became Telemundo continental U.S. network.
  15. UniMás was originally launched as Telefutura in January 2002, before rebranding under its current name in January 2013.
  16. Univision. "UniMás Network". Univision Corporate. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  17. 1 2 3 4 These networks are carried only on the digital subchannels of local TBN affiliates, and are owned by TBN.
  18. JCTV is carried on some analogue and digital television stations, digital subchannels of local Trinity Broadcast Network affiliates, and cable/satellite providers, while Smile of a Child and TBN Enlace USA are carried only on local TBN affiliates. All four networks are owned by TBN.
  19. Cornerstone Television is not considered a television network in the traditional definition, rather it is a distributor of in-house produced programming. Although the main station, WPCB-TV in Pittsburgh is carried on many owned-and-operated translators, its full-power and LPTV "affiliates" typically air one or two Cornerstone-produced programs per week scheduled at different times than on WPCB and do not identify themselves as "Cornerstone Television" affiliates.
  20. Although Cornerstone Television was founded in 1970, the network did not begin even limited broadcasts until 1979.
  21. Date at which WHTV acquired two additional stations. World Harvest Television is a product of LeSea Broadcasting.
  22. Sara Bibel (May 21, 2013). "Season-to-Date: Univision Increases Total Viewers, While ABC, Fox and NBC Decline". TV by the Numbers . Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  23. "Exitos is NBCUniversal Largest Subchannel Network – Subchannel Report". Across Platforms. Archived from the original on 2015-01-20.
  24. Michael Insalaco. "22 Spanish Networks Are On Full-Power Subchannels – Subchannel Report". Across Platforms. Archived from the original on 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2013-10-07. Report data posted here.
  25. Diana Marszalek (December 1, 2014). "Telemundo Stations Debut Classic TV Diginet". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  26. https://www.wlmb.com/radianttv/
  27. https://radianttv.com/about/
  28. https://radianttv.com/wheretowatch/
  29. "Here's How to Keep Watching MHz Worldview Programming After March 1st | MHz Networks". 2020-02-01. Archived from the original on 2020-02-01. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  30. Michael Kokernak. "La Familia cable network to nest SOI TV programming". Across Platforms. Archived from the original on 2014-04-16.
  31. "Programming Reports – SOI TV". Comcast . Archived from the original on 2013-09-01. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  32. Strother, Susan G. (January 17, 1991). "Tv Network Signs Off – Out Of Cash". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  33. "Universal Sports TV Channel Slated To Shut Down Next Month". www.sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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