This list needs additional citations for verification .(January 2015)
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.
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.
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.
|Name||Owner (Subsidiary)||Launch Date||% of U.S. households reached||# of households viewable||# of Full-Power Affiliates||# of Low-power/Class-A affiliates||Language||Description||Notes|
|NBC|| NBCUniversal |
|1939||97%||114,848,000||226||~338||English||Major commercial network|
|ABC||Walt Disney Television||1948||229||~266|
|The CW||ViacomCBS (National Amusements) (50%)||2006||204||~11|
|PBS|| Corporation for Public Broadcasting |
(main steward, not owner, of service)
|MyNetworkTV||MyNetworkTV, Inc.||2006||97%||100,640,000||151||~30||Commercial/syndication service|
|MeTV||Weigel Broadcasting||2010||84%||99,456,000||176||29||Classic series|
|PBS Kids||PBS||1994||83%||98,272,000||269||0||Children's programming||Non-Commercial|
|Court TV||Katz Broadcasting, LLC||2019||80.49%||95,300,160||True crime/court news|
|Antenna TV||Nexstar Media Group||2011||80%||94,720,000||114||27||Classic series and films|
|True Crime Network||Tegna Inc.||2014||76%||92,936,000||62||10||True Crime/Investigation|
|Court TV Mystery||Katz Broadcasting, LLC||75%||88,800,000||124||25||Suspense/drama/women's interest||Launched as Escape|
|Create||American Public Television, WGBH-TV, & WNET||2006||86%||87,616,000||238||1||Public TV/instructional||Non-Commercial|
|Laff||Laff Media, LLC||2015||74%||111||22||Comedy|
|This TV||Entertainment Studios||2008||89||29||Classic series and films|
|Bounce TV||Bounce Media LLC||2011||73%||86,432,000||112||11||Black-centric programming|
|Ion||Ion Media||1998 (as Pax TV)||72% (OTA only)||85,248,000||109||25||Commercial/syndication service|
|Comet||Sinclair Broadcast Group (operator: MGM Television)||2015||66%||78,144,000||100||17||Science Fiction|
|GetTV||Sony Pictures Television||2014||66||20||Classic series and films|
|Circle||Circle Media (Gray Television, Inc. & Opry Entertainment Group, Inc.)||2020||62.60%||195,620,130||96||0||Country music/lifestyle|
|Heroes & Icons||Weigel Broadcasting||2014||58%||68,672,000||57||30||Classic series and films|
|World||American Public Television, WNET, WGBH Educational Foundation, & National Educational Telecommunications Association||2007||59%||68,617,000||160||0||News and documentaries||Non-Commercial|
|QVC||Qurate Retail Group||1986||68,204,000||48||13||Shopping|
|HSN||Qurate Retail Group||1985||41||46|
|Decades||CBS Television Stations & Weigel Broadcasting||2015||57%||67,488,000||53||6||Classic series and films/Historical documentaries|
|Movies!|| Fox Television Stations |
(both owning 50%)
|Cozi TV||Comcast||56%||66,304,000||66||31||Classic series and films/Lifestyle|
|Quest||Tegna Inc.||2018||65%||78,200,000||29||TBD||Adventure programming|
|Start TV||Weigel Broadcasting||46%||54,464,000||25||6||Female lead Procedural dramas|
|Buzzr||Fremantle & RTL Group||2015||45%||53,280,000||20||37||Game shows|
|Charge!||Sinclair Broadcast Group||2017||43%||50,912,000||52||4||Action series and films|
|Rev'n|| Reach High Media Group. |
(Henry Luken III)
|Retro TV|| Reach High Media Group |
(Henry Luken III)
|TheGrio.tv||Entertainment Studios||2021||33%||39,072,000||14||0||Black-centric programming|
|QVC2||Qurate Retail Group||2013||31%||36,704,000||5||34||Shopping|
|Localish||ABC Owned Television Stations (Walt Disney Television)||2009||25%||29,600,000||8||0||Health/lifestyle|
|TBD||Sinclair Television Group (Sinclair Broadcast Group)(operated by Jukin Media)||2017||50||5||Talk/lifestyle|
|Heartland||Reach High Media Group||2012||22.51%||23,342,140||2||44||Country music/lifestyle|
|JewelryTV||Multimedia Commerce Group, Inc.||1993||22%||26,048,000||4||30||Shopping|
|NHK World||NHK||1998||18%||20,934,000||15||0||Japanese news and information||Non-Commercial|
|The Action Channel||Reach High Media Group||2016||21,312,000||2||38||Men's Interest|
|Biz Television||Center Post Media, Inc.||2009||17%||19,788,000||5||34||Business and financial information|
|WeatherNation TV||WeatherNation, Inc (Performance One Media)||2011||20||7||Weather|
|The Country Network||TCN Country, LLC||2009||20,128,000||7||33||Country music videos|
|Soul of the South Television||SSN Media Group, LP||2013||4||7||African-American programming|
|Stadium||Sinclair Television Group, Inc. (Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.) & Silver Chalice||2017||15%||17,760,000||38||24||Sports|
|FNX (First Nations Experience)||San Bernardino Community College District||2011||12%||14,208,000||22||7||Native American programming||Non-Commercial|
|Newsmax TV||Newsmax Media||2014||12% (OTA only)||14,208,000||0||23||News/Documentaries/Conservative Talk|
|ShopHQ||iMedia Brands Inc. (Comcast [12.5%])||1991||11%||13,024,000||5||6||Shopping|
|France 24||France Médias Monde (French Government)||2006||10%||11,640,000||4||International news||Non-Commercial|
|MiND (MiND: Media Independence)||WYBE||2007||9%||10,467,000||2||0||Multicultural, educational|
|Shop LC||Vaibhav Global||8%||9,472,000||0||42||Shopping|
|AccuWeather Channel||National Weather Service||2006||7%||8,148,000||13||4||Weather|
|YTA, formerly Youtoo America, formerly America One||Center Post Media||1985||33%||34,984,000||1||34||Sports/lifestyle|
|Classic Arts Showcase||The Lloyd E. Rigler – Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation||1994||6,978,000||3||3||Non-commercial performance art video clips||Non-Commercial|
|The Family Channel||ValCom & Reach High Media Group||2008||5%||5,920,000||4||21||Classic series and films||Called My Family TV until 2014.|
|QVC3||Qurate Retail Group||2016||0||5||Shopping|
|AMGTV||Access Media Group||2006||4.39%||1||22||General Entertainment|
|Doctor TV||Doctor Television Channel, Inc. (MSGPR, Inc.)||2014||2.22%||6,942,039||Health/lifestyle|
|Minnesota Channel||Twin Cities Public Television||2005||17||0||Educational television, public affairs, ethnic and local programming|
|Untamed Sports TV||None||2008||1.29%||4,021,177||Sports/outdoors|
|Pursuit Channel||Pursuit Media LLC||0.23%||716,644||Sports and recreation|
|Frost Great Outdoors||Reach High Media Group||2011||0.02%||294,038||Outdoors/shopping|
|Univision||Univision Communications||1986||49%||94,100,000||62||26||Spanish||Spanish commercial|
|Estrella TV||Estrella Media||2009||46%||64,232,000||38||29|
|Azteca|| HC2 Holdings |
(Azteca name & brand licensed from TV Azteca)
|LATV||LATV Networks, LLC||27||16||Bilingual (English/Spanish) entertainment|
|TeleXitos||NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises|
(NBCUniversal Filmed and Entertainment)
|Mega TV||Spanish Broadcasting System||2006||6%||6,984,000||5||1|
|TeLe-Romántica||Dreamhouse Entertainment, LLC|
(managed by TeVe-Romance)
|Inmigrante TV||2010||0%||0||Spanish political news and commentary|
|Multimedios||Grupo Multimedios||1968||2.22%||6,942,039||Spanish commercial|
|Daystar||Word of God Fellowship||1982||56%||64,736,000||20||80||English||Religious|
|SonLife Broadcasting Network||2010||44%||52,096,000||22||77|
|enlace||2002||41%||48,554,000||37||9||Spanish||Spanish-language religious programming|
|Smile of a Child TV||Trinity Broadcasting Network||2005||35||12||Religious children's programming|
|Positiv (formerly JCTV and JUCE TV)||Trinity Broadcasting Network||2003||36||10||Christian and Family-oriented movies|
|Hillsong Channel||Hillsong Church & Trinity Broadcasting Network||2002||35||9||Religious|
|3ABN Latino||2003||20%||23,680,000||0||124||Spanish||Spanish religious|
|Peace TV||2006||15%||17,760,000||7||English||Religious (Islamic)|
|Dare to Dream Network||2010||13%||15,392,000||101||Religious|
|The Walk TV||2010||7.52%||23,506,549||3||12|
|The Word Network||2000||1.5%||1,734,000||2||Religious|
|Tvida Vision||2005||0.7%||809,200||0||2||Spanish||Spanish religious|
|The Worship Network||1992||0.6%||693,600||1||English||Religious|
|Tele Vida Abundante||1985||0.32%||1,004,355||3||Spanish||Spanish religious (Jewish)|
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.
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.
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.
This article needs to be updated.(November 2010)
KTVQ, virtual channel 2, is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Billings, Montana, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, and is part of the Montana Television Network, a statewide network of CBS-affiliated stations. KTVQ's studios are located on Third Avenue North in Billings, and its transmitter is located on Sacrifice Cliff southeast of downtown. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 5 in both standard and high definition.
WAGM-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is a CBS/Fox/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Presque Isle, Maine, United States. Owned by Gray Television, it is a sister station to Fort Kent-licensed low-powered NBC affiliate WWPI-LD. The two stations share studios on Brewer Road in Presque Isle; WAGM-TV's transmitter is located on the northern section of Mars Hill Mountain among the wind turbines.
WTHI-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 10, is a CBS/Fox/MyNetworkTV/CW+-affiliated television station licensed to Terre Haute, Indiana, United States. The station is owned by Allen Media Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios. WTHI-TV's studios are located on 8th and Ohio Streets in downtown Terre Haute, and its transmitter is located along US 41/150 in unincorporated Sullivan County. Master control operations are based at the facilities of former sister station WISH-TV on North Meridian Street in northwestern Indianapolis. On cable, WTHI-TV is available on Charter Spectrum channel 12 in both standard and high definition.
KFSN-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 30, is an ABC owned-and-operated television station licensed to Fresno, California, United States. The station is owned by the ABC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. KFSN-TV's studios are located on G Street in downtown Fresno, and its transmitter is located on Bear Mountain, near Meadow Lakes, California.
Weigel Broadcasting Company is an American television broadcasting company based in Chicago, Illinois, alongside its flagship station WCIU-TV, at 26 North Halsted Street in the Greektown neighborhood. It currently owns 25 television stations and 5 digital over-the-air television networks.
WNPX-TV, virtual channel 28, is an Ion Television owned-and-operated station serving Nashville, Tennessee, United States that is licensed to Franklin. The station is owned by the Ion Media subsidiary of the E. W. Scripps Company, as part of a duopoly with Nashville-licensed CBS affiliate WTVF. WNPX-TV's transmitter is located near Cross Plains, Tennessee.
In broadcasting, digital subchannels are a method of transmitting more than one independent program stream simultaneously from the same digital radio or television station on the same radio frequency channel. This is done by using data compression techniques to reduce the size of each individual program stream, and multiplexing to combine them into a single signal. The practice is sometimes called "multicasting".
The CW Plus is the national feed of The CW, owned by The CW Network, LLC, that is intended primarily for American television markets ranked #100 and above by Nielsen Media Research estimates. The service is primarily carried on digital subchannels and multichannel subscription television providers, although it maintains primary affiliations on full-power and low-power stations in certain markets serviced by the feed.
KFTA-TV, virtual channel 24, is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States, serving the Arkansas River Valley and Northwest Arkansas. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group, as part of a de facto triopoly with Rogers-licensed NBC affiliate KNWA-TV and Eureka Springs-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate KXNW. The three stations share studios at the Underwood Building on Dickson Street in downtown Fayetteville, with a satellite studio in Rogers and a news bureau and sales office on Kelley Highway in Fort Smith. KFTA-TV's transmitter is located in unincorporated northeastern Crawford County.
WMYT-TV, virtual channel 55, is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station serving Charlotte, North Carolina, United States that is licensed to Rock Hill, South Carolina. As such, it is the only major commercial station in Charlotte that is licensed on the South Carolina side of the market. WMYT is owned by Nexstar Media Group, as part of a duopoly with Belmont, North Carolina-licensed Fox affiliate WJZY. The two stations share studios on Performance Road in unincorporated northwestern Mecklenburg County, and transmitter facilities in Dallas, North Carolina, along the Catawba River. There is no separate website for WMYT-TV.
In the broadcasting industry, a network affiliate or affiliated station is a local broadcaster, owned by a company other than the owner of the network, which carries some or all of the lineup of television programs or radio programs of a television or radio network. This distinguishes such a television or radio station from an owned-and-operated station (O&O), which is owned by the parent network.
Bounce TV is an American digital multicast television network owned by Katz Broadcasting, a subsidiary of E. W. Scripps Company. Promoted as "the first 24/7 digital multicast broadcast network created to target African Americans", the channel features a mix of original and acquired programming geared toward African Americans between 25 and 54 years of age. The network is network affiliate with terrestrial television and television station in many media markets through digital subchannel; it is also available on the digital cable tiers of select cable providers at the discretion of local affiliates, The network is also available on Dish Network.
Movies! is an American free-to-air television network owned as a joint venture between Weigel Broadcasting and the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation. The network's programming emphasizes feature films but also Modern E/I programming on Sunday mornings sourced from Storrs Media/Telco Productions. The network's programming and advertising operations are based in Weigel Broadcasting's headquarters on North Halsted Street in Chicago, Illinois.
getTV is an American digital multicast television network owned by the Sony Pictures Television Networks subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television. Originally formatted as a movie-oriented service, the network has since transitioned into a general entertainment network featuring primarily classic television shows from the 1960s through the 2000s, much of which is sourced from the library of Sony Pictures Entertainment as well as the 20th Television, CBS Studios, and NBCUniversal Syndication Studios libraries.
Grit is an American free-to-air television network owned by the Katz Broadcasting subsidiary of the E. W. Scripps Company. The network features classic TV series and western feature films targeted at men between the ages of 25 and 54 years old.
Heroes & Icons is an American digital broadcast television network owned by Weigel Broadcasting. Usually carried on the digital subchannels of its affiliated television station in most markets, the network airs classic television series from the 1950s through the 2000s, with a focus on action/adventure, westerns, crime dramas, sci-fi, and superhero programming. It serves as a male-focused counterpart to its younger sister network, Start TV, which primarily carries women-led procedural drama series.
Decades is an American digital broadcast television network owned as a joint venture between the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of ViacomCBS and Weigel Broadcasting. The network, which is mainly carried on the digital subchannels of television stations, primarily airs classic television sitcoms from the 1950s through the early 1990s.
KPMF-LD, virtual channel 26, is a low-powered MyNetworkTV/Quest-affiliated television station licensed to Paragould, Arkansas, United States, within the Jonesboro media market, though it actually serves the Memphis, Tennessee market from the WATN/WLMT transmitter off Brief Road in the Brunswick section of unincorporated northeast Shelby County. The station is owned by HC2 Holdings. It is presently not carried on any cable or satellite providers.
TBD is an American digital broadcast television network owned by the Sinclair Television Group subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group and operated by Jukin Media. Targeting millennial audiences, the network focuses on internet-based series and other digital content, along with some feature films.