List of United States over-the-air television networks

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The five major U.S. broadcast network logos

In the United States, for most of the history of broadcasting, there were only three or four major commercial national broadcast 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 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 television programming; the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) succeeded it in 1970.

Today, more than 50 national broadcasting networks exist. Other than the non-commercial educational (NCE) PBS, which is composed of member stations, the largest broadcast 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 Television 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. Most media outlets now include Fox in what they refer to as the "Big Four" television 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 The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal. Through the use of multicasting, there have also been a number of new Spanish-language and non-commercial public television networks that have launched.

Broadcast networks in the United States can be divided into four 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 2014-15 television season, there are an estimated 116.3 million households in the United States with at least one television set.[1]

Table of broadcast networks[edit]

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

Major English-language commercial networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
NBC 1946[2] 97% 112,811,000 Commercial 226 ~338
CBS 1948[2] 97% 112,811,000 Commercial 215 ~299
ABC 1948[2] 97% 112,811,000 Commercial 229 ~266
Fox 1986[3] 97% 112,811,000 Commercial 223 ~202
The CW 2006[4] 95% 110,485,000 Commercial 204 ~11

Public television networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
PBS 1969[5] 96% 111,648,000 Nonprofit/cooperative 349 ~342
Create January 10, 2006 72% 83,736,000 Public TV/instructional 227 0
World August 15, 2007 59% 68,617,000 News and documentaries 160 0
V-me 2007 47% 54,661,000 Spanish educational 51 1
MHz WorldView / MHz Networks 2001 31% 36,053,000 Educational/international 29 1
NHK World 18% 20,934,000 Japanese news and information 7 0
France 24 December 6, 2006 14% 16,282,000 International news 5 4
FNX (First Nations Experience) 9% 10,467,000 Native American programming 6 2
MiND (MiND: Media Independence) May 15, 2007 9% 10,467,000 Multicultural, educational 2 0
Classic Arts Showcase 1994 6% 6,978,000 Non-commercial performance art video clips 3 3
DW-TV (Deutsche Welle) 1953 2% 2,326,000 Multicultural 1 2
Minnesota Channel 2005 2% 2,326,000 Educational television, public affairs, ethnic and local programming 17 0

Spanish-language networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
Univision 1986[6] 55% 63,580,000 Spanish commercial 46 13
Telemundo 1954 54% 62,424,000 Spanish commercial 48 26
UniMás 2002[7] 62%[8] 54,332,000 Spanish commercial 35 10
MundoFox 2012 54%[8] 58.956,000 Spanish commercial 25 39
LATV 2001 50%[8] 43,928,000 Bilingual (English/Spanish) entertainment 27 16
Azteca 2001 41%[8] 45,084,000 Spanish commercial 14 28
Estrella TV 2009 27%[8] 47,396,000 Spanish commercial 28 19
TeleXitos 2012 30% 34,680,000 Spanish commercial 15 0
TeLe-Romántica 2012 18% 20,808,000 Telenovelas/lifestyle 3 11
CNN en Español 1997 16% 18,496,000 News 1 6
ZUUS Latino 2012 13% 15,028,000 Music videos 12 7
Inmigrante TV 2010 12% 13,872,000 5 1
Mega TV 2006 5% 5,780,000 Spanish commercial 3 1
Multimedios 1968 2% 2,312,000 Spanish commercial 6 2
Tr3s[9] 1998 0.7% 809,200 Spanish music videos 0 5
Mexicanal August 23, 2005 0.45% 520,200 Mexican programming 0 1

Genre-based and general entertainment television networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
MyNetworkTV September 5, 2006[4] 91% 105,196,000 Commercial/syndication service 162 ~40
Me-TV 2010 91%[8] 97,104,000 Classic television series 162 21
This TV 2008 85%[8] 94,792,000 Movies and TV shows 114 18
Grit August 18, 2014 75% 87,225,000 Action/westerns/men's Interest 110 2
Antenna TV 2011 73% 84,899,000 Classic television series and movies 87 13
Bounce TV 2011 72%[8] 83,736,000 African-American programming 86 8
GetTV 2014 67% 77,921,000 Classic movies 62 5
Ion Television August 31, 1998 (as PaxTV) 65% (OTA only) 75,595,000[10] Commercial/syndication service 65 22
qubo 2007 65%[8] 75,595,000 Commercial (Children's) 61 [11] 4
Cozi TV 2013 62% 72,106,000 Classic television series/movies/lifestyle 63 15
Movies! 2013 58% 67,454,000 Feature films 50 12
Escape August 18, 2014 54% 62,802,000 Suspense/drama/women's interest 43 3
Laff April 15, 2015 52% 60,476,000 Comedy 30 0
Retro TV 2005 49% 56,987,000 Commercial, reruns 24 80
ZUUS Country 2009 25%[8] 35,836,000 Country music videos 25 6
Soul of the South Network May 27, 2013 23% 26,749,000 African-American programming 11 19
The Works 2014 21% 24,423,000 News and entertainment 9 2
Heroes & Icons September 29, 2014 11% 12,793,000 Classic television series and films 11 5
AMGTV[12] 2006 9% 28,726,530 Commercial, family 2 13
Launch TV 2014 9% 10,467,000 Independent programming 1 16
The Family Channel 2008 (as My Family TV) 2014[8] 9% 10,476,000 Classic television series and movies 5 24
Heartland November 1, 2012 8% 9,304,000 Country music/lifestyle 8 23
PBJ September 2011 8% 9,304,000 Children's/classic cartoons 4 32
TheCoolTV 2009 3% 3,489,000 Music videos 2 5
Mi Casa Broadcasting September 2014 3% 3,489,000 English-language Hispanic programming 0 7
FamilyNet 1979/1988 2% 2,312,000 Classic television series 1 14
Punch TV URBT 2012 1.5% 1,744,500 Urban & Independent programming 0 7

News, sports and lifestyle networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
Ion Life 2005 65%[8] 75,595,000 Health/lifestyle;
occasional movies
60 [11] 3
Justice Network January 20, 2015 37% 43,031,000 True Crime/Investigation 34 2
Live Well Network April 27, 2009 33% 38,379,000 Health/lifestyle 16 0
Rev'n December 1, 2014 30% 34,890,000 Automotive 0 30
WeatherNation TV 2011 20% 23,260,000 Weather 23 3
Biz Television 2009 18% 20,934,000 Business and financial information 2 10
Tuff TV 2009 13% 15,119,000 Male interest programming 1 31
AccuWeather Channel 2006 11% 12,793,000 Weather 18 4
America One 2003 11% 12,793,000 Commercial/sports/lifestyle 2 33
TouchVision September 16, 2013 8% 9,248,000 News and information 2 3
Untamed Sports TV 2008 1% 1,156,000 Sports/outdoors 2 2
Frost Great Outdoors 2011 0.5% 578,000 Outdoors/shopping 0 5
Pursuit Channel 2008 0.15% 173,400 Sports and recreation 0 3

Shopping networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
QVC 1986 59% 68,204,000 Commercial/infomercial 48 13
HSN 1985[13] 59% 68,204,000 Commercial/infomercial 41 46
JewelryTV[14][15] 1993 15% 17,340,000 Commercial/infomercial 4 15
Corner Store TV Unknown 7% 8.092,000 Commercial/infomercial 0 6
EVINE Live 1991 2% 2,312,000 Commercial/infomercial 2 0

Program Guide networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
TV Scout 2012 10% 11,590,000 EPG 0 10

Religious television networks[edit]

Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters
Daystar 1982 56% 64,736,000 Religious 23 66
enlace[16] 2006? 45% 52,020,000 Spanish-language religious programming 37 9
TBN 1973 44% 50,864,000 Religious 39 10
Smile of a Child TV[16] December 24, 2005 44% 50,864,000 Religious children's programming 35 12
JUCE TV[16][17](formerly JCTV) 2003 44% 50,864,000 Religious youth programming/music videos 36 10
The Church Channel[16] 2002? 44% 50,864,000 Religious 35 9
SonLife Broadcasting Network 2010 35% 40,460,000 Religious 5 25
3ABN 1984 29% 33,524,000 Religious 2 133
3ABN Latino 2003 22% 25,432,000 Spanish religious 0 124
Peace TV 2006 20% 23,120,000 Religious (Islamic) 0 9
Almavision 2002 18% 20,808,000 Spanish religious 0 11
Dare to Dream Network 2010 17% 19,652,000 Religious 0 101
3ABN Proclaim! 2010 14% 16,184,000 Religious 0 109
Cornerstone Television[18] 1979[19] 14% 16,184,000 Religious 2 17
TCT 1977 6% 6,936,000 Religious 8 5
The Walk TV January 11, 2010 5% 5,780,000 Religious 3 12
CTN 1979 5% 5,780,000 Religious 11 5
God TV 1995 5% 5,780,000 Religious 2 2
WHT 1985[20] 5% 5,780,000 Religious 7 4
Tele Vida Abundante 5% 5,780,000 Spanish religious 1  ??
EWTN 1981 2% 2,312,000 Religious (Catholic) 1 3
Hope Channel October 10, 2003 1.5% 1,734,000 Religious 0 6
The Word Network 2000 1.5% 1,734,000 Religious 2 2
La Familia Cosmovision 2002? 1% 1,156,000 Spanish religious 0 1
TLN 1973 1% 1,156,000 Religious 1 0
Tvida Vision 2005 0.7% 809,200 Spanish religious 0 2
The Worship Network[13] 1992 0.6% 693,600 Religious 0 1
GLC 1982 0.25% 289,000 Religious 5 0
Television network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Network type # of Full-power affiliates # of Low-power/Class-A affiliates and transmitters

English-language commercial networks[edit]

Conventional networks[edit]

  • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) – The nation's third-largest commercial network, ABC was originally formed from the NBC Blue Network, a radio network which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced NBC to sell in 1943; the ABC television network began broadcasting in 1948. Owned by The Walt Disney Company, ABC airs original programming, sports, and news seven days a week. It has over 200 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations, almost all of which air local newscasts.
  • CBS (originally the Columbia Broadcasting System) – The nation's second-largest commercial network, it originated as the CBS Radio Network in 1927; the CBS television network commenced broadcasts in 1941. Owned by CBS Corporation, CBS airs original programming, sports and news seven days a week. The network has over 200 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations, almost all of which air local newscasts. For most of its existence, CBS has been the nation's most watched network.
  • NBC (originally the National Broadcasting Company) – The nation's largest and oldest commercial network, the NBC television network was formed out of the NBC Red Network radio service, which launched in 1922; the network commenced television broadcasts in 1941. Owned by NBCUniversal, NBC airs original programming, sports and news seven days a week. It has over 200 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations, almost all of which air local newscasts.
  • Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox) – The nation's fourth-largest commercial network, Fox was launched in October 1986 through former parent News Corporation's purchase of Metromedia earlier that year (two of the network's owned-and-operated stations once owned by that group at its founding had formed the hub of the DuMont Television Network, which existed from 1944 to 1956) and the purchase of the 20th Century Fox film studio the year prior. Owned by 21st Century Fox, Fox airs first-run programming and sports seven days a week, programming two hours each night in primetime (three hours on Sundays), along with political talk program Fox News Sunday on Sunday mornings and the optional infomercial block Weekend Marketplace on Saturday mornings. It has nearly 200 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations, almost all of which air local newscasts, with some producing newscasts in-house and others airing newscasts produced by a local affiliate of another major network.
  • The CW – The nation's fifth-largest commercial network, The CW was originally formed by CBS Corporation and Time Warner as a replacement for The WB and UPN, both of which folded in September 2006 after 11 years of existence and whose programs formed most of its initial schedule. It maintains approximately 100 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations in the top 100 television markets; it also has approximately 90 additional cable-only and digital subchannel affiliations in smaller television markets through a fully programmed feed known as The CW Plus. The network airs two hours of first-run programming in primetime and one hour in daytime on Monday through Fridays, as well as a five-hour children's program block on Saturday mornings called One Magnificent Morning. Unlike its four larger major network competitors, The CW does not have owned-and-operated stations in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, the affiliates in those markets are owned by Tribune Broadcasting; despite joint ownership by CBS and Time Warner, CBS Corporation serves as the network's de facto O&O station group (Time Warner owns one station in Atlanta through its Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary, however it does not serve as the CW affiliate for the market). Some CW affiliates air local newscasts, most of which are produced by another station in the market though ten of its affiliates (most of which are owned by Tribune Broadcasting) produce local newscasts in-house.
  • MyNetworkTV – MyNetworkTV is a programming service owned by 21st Century Fox, which is also parent of the Fox network. It was hastily formed in February 2006 to provide programming for stations left out of affiliation with The CW, after CBS Corporation and Time Warner chose to shut down The WB and UPN to form that network. The network launched in September 2006 with a format of English-language telenovelas, but gradually switched to mainly low-budget programming by the end of its first year. Since it converted from a television network into a programming service in 2009, MyNetworkTV fills its two-hour primetime schedule on Monday through Fridays, with reruns of drama series that originated on other broadcast and cable networks. Some MyNetworkTV affiliates air local newscasts, most of which are produced by another station in the market (San Francisco affiliate KRON-TV is the only affiliate that produces its local news programming in-house).
  • Ion Television – Ion Television (originally known as Pax TV from 1998 to 2005, and i: Independent Television from 2005 to 2007) is a mid-sized network owned by Ion Media Networks; it airs off-network repeats of recent television series and select English-language imported programming, as well as feature films for eighteen hours per day. Ion is the largest English-language network that is wholly responsible for handling programming on behalf of its affiliates, some of which run limited locally produced public affairs and religious programming. It has around 70 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations, the majority of which are owned by parent Ion Media Networks); Ion Television is available in markets without an over-the-air affiliate via a national feed that is distributed to cable and satellite providers. As Pax TV and i, it aired several hours a week of original programming in primetime (often produced in conjunction with NBC). Ion owned-and-operated stations and some affiliates also carry two sister multicast services on their digital subchannels, children's network Qubo (which handles most of the federally required educational programming content for the network's stations) and lifestyle-oriented Ion Life, with many of the network's O&Os also carrying QVC and the Home Shopping Network on additional subchannels.

Minor and digital multicast networks[edit]

  • Me-TV (a backronym for "Memorable Entertainment Television") – Me-TV is a television network owned by Weigel Broadcasting that airs reruns of classic television series from the 1950s to the 1980s sourced primarily from the CBS Television Distribution, NBCUniversal Television Distribution and 20th Television program libraries, as well as some limited content from Weigel. The network is maintains over 160 affiliates (mainly through digital subchannel affiliations, with a small number of stations carrying it as a primary network affiliation), making it the most widely distributed multicast network and the seventh-largest commercial broadcast network in the United States.
  • This TV – This TV is a movie-oriented multicast network owned as a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Tribune Broadcasting; originally owned by MGM in conjunction with Weigel Broadcasting, the network was launched on November 1, 2008. The network primarily carries feature films from the libraries of MGM and select other film studios (such as Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment), as well as limited amount of television series from the 1950s to the 1990s. The network maintains over 110 affiliate stations (primarily on digital subchannels, with a small number of stations carrying the network as a primary network affiliation), making This TV the eighth-largest commercial broadcast network in the United States.
  • Antenna TV – Antenna TV is a digital multicast network owned by Tribune Broadcasting; launched on January 1, 2011, the network carries classic television series from the 1950s to the 1990s sourced from the programming libraries of Sony Pictures Television, NBCUniversal Television Distribution and 20th Television as well as other distributors; the network also carries a limited amount of feature films. The network maintains approximately 95 affiliates (nearly all of which carry the network on digital subchannels).
  • Movies! – Movies! is a digital multicast network owned as a joint venture between Weigel Broadcasting and Fox Television Stations; launched on May 23, 2013 and natively transmitted in the 16:9 format, the network features theatrically released feature films from the 1920s to the 1980s primarily sourced from the 20th Century Fox library, as well as select titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, most of which are broadcast in the aspect ratio to which they were originally produced. Movies! maintains subchannel-only affiliations with approximately 45 stations.
  • Bounce TV – Bounce TV is a digital multicast network owned by Bounce Media, LLC; co-founded by Martin Luther King III and Andrew Young, and launched on September 26, 2011, its programming is aimed at blacks and African Americans between the ages of 25 and 54, featuring a mix of acquired sitcoms, game and talk shows, original programs and feature films. Bounce TV maintains affiliations with approximately 45 stations (the vast majority of which are subchannel-only affiliations), primarily in markets with sizeable African-American populations.
  • Cozi TV – Cozi TV is a digital multicast network owned by the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal; launched on January 1, 2013, the network carries classic television series from the 1950s to the 1980s sourced from the NBCUniversal Television Distribution programming library, as well as lifestyle programming and feature films. Cozi TV traces its history to the 2010 launch of NBC Nonstop, a local news and lifestyle programming subchannel format that spread to most of NBC's owned-and-operated stations. The network maintains approximately 65 affiliates (nearly all of which carry the network on digital subchannels).
  • GetTV – GetTV is a digital multicast network owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment; launched on February 13, 2014, the network focuses on classic theatrically released films from the 1920s to the 1960s sourced mainly from Sony Pictures library, most of which are broadcast in the aspect ratio to which they were originally produced (due to the network's native 4:3 transmission, films presented in widescreen are presented with letterboxing). The network maintains subchannel-only affiliations with approximately 64 affiliates.
  • Escape – Escape is a digital multicast network owned by Katz Broadcasting; launched on August 8, 2014 and natively transmitted in the 16:9 format (although some programs are stretched to 16:9 if not already available in the format), the network features crime-focused documentary series, as well as theatrically released mystery and crime drama films aimed at a female audience. Escape maintains subchannel-only affiliations with approximately 35 affiliates.
  • Grit – Grit is a digital multicast network owned by Katz Broadcasting; launched on August 8, 2014 and natively transmitted in the 16:9 format (although some programs are stretched to 16:9 if not already available in the format), the network features theatrically released action and western films, as well as a limited amount of classic television series aimed at a male audience. Grit maintains subchannel-only affiliations with around 45 stations.
  • WeatherNation TV – WeatherNation TV is a television and online network owned by WeatherNation, LLC; launched on October 27, 2011 and natively transmitted in the 16:9 format, the network features national and regional weather forecasts and analysis; the network's broadcast affiliates also air local weather updates either provided by the station's weather staff or via an automated graphical segment. The network maintains subchannel-only affiliations with approximately 35 stations; WeatherNation is also available on select cable and satellite providers, as well as via streaming on computers, mobile devices and Smart TVs.
  • Heroes & Icons – Heroes & Icons (abbreviated as "H&I") is a digital multicast network owned by Weigel Broadcasting; launched in September 2014, the network carries classic television series and films intended to attract a generally male audience (featuring a mix of action series, police procedurals, westerns, science fiction/fantasy series and military-themed series). Heroes & Icons maintains affiliations with around 15 stations (nearly all of which carry the network as a subchannel-only affiliation).
  • Retro Television Network – Retro Television Network (branded as "Retro TV") is a digital multicast network owned by Luken Communications; launched in September 2005 as the first multicast network to rely on older acquired programs, the network carries a mix of classic television series from the 1950s to the 1970s (including some public domain programming), along with recent imported series and feature films. Retro Television Network maintains affiliations with approximately 85 stations (most of which carry the network as a subchannel-only affiliation, and are mostly owned by parent Luken Communications).
  • TV Scout – TV Scout is a network launched in July 2013, which provides programming listings for broadcast television stations serving the affiliate's local market. As of October 2013, the network maintains subchannel-only affiliations with 12 television stations.[21]
  • TouchVision – TouchVision is a digital multicast and broadband television network owned by Think Televisual, LLC; launched in 2013, it features blocks of national and international news content presented in a newsreel-style format. TouchVision's programming is also syndicated to television stations in a few markets as a substitute for national morning or evening newscasts, and is also carried a daily programming block on Heroes & Icons.
  • America One – A successor to Channel America, America One is a network featuring general entertainment programming (which is wholly scheduled by the network for its affiliates), with a heavy emphasis on primetime sports programming and events; it maintains affiliations with approximately 40 stations.
  • FamilyNet – FamilyNet is a general entertainment cable network owned by the Rural Media Group; launched in 1988, featuring a mix secular classic television which continues to hold several broadcast affiliates. It is a former religious network launched early in the cable era which has gone through several owners, including Jerry Falwell and the Southern Baptist Convention before being acquired by the Rural Media Group, the parent of the rural-focused RFD TV in 2013. Most of the network's religious programming now airs only on Sunday mornings and it is programmed as of September 2014 as a mainly secular classic television network which continues to hold several broadcast affiliates, though most religious-focused station groups have ended their relationship with FamilyNet.

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.

Nomenclatures for commercial networks[edit]

Nicknames referring to the major American networks (most established by the industry publication Variety as "slanguage") are as follows:

  • ABC: "Alphabet network" (its name is also the first three letters of the alphabet) or "circle network" (the network's logo, used since 1962, is a circle with its initials in lower-case)
  • CBS: "Tiffany network" or "eye network" (for the network's high-toned reputation and eye logo, respectively)
  • Fox Broadcasting Company: referred to by media outlets and by the network itself by the capitalized "FOX", and the legal name is only used in industry media and legal documents
  • NBC: "Peacock network" (after its multi-colored logo)
  • The CW: "Green network" (the color scheme originally used by the network for its on-air imaging was dominated by the color green)
  • MyNetworkTV: "Fox mini-network" (like Fox, the network was formed by News Corporation)
  • PBS: "Head Network" (in reference to the network's educational programming, mascot, and logo)
  • UPN (defunct): "Used Parts Network" (for its acquisitions of series formerly seen on other networks to broadcast new episodes), "Shapes network" or "Disc network" (after the network's 1995 to 2002 and 2002 to 2006 logos)
  • The WB (defunct): "Frog network" or, the network's secondary branding, "The Frog" (after the network's mascot, Warner Bros. animated character Michigan J. Frog)
  • DuMont Television Network (defunct): "The Forgotten Network" (due to its modern-day obscurity, considering it was a major network during the 1940s and 1950s)

Additionally, both The WB and UPN were referred to as "weblets" by Variety, because of their smaller audiences and reduced program schedules. The CW and MyNetworkTV have more often been called "netlets," which utilizes the same definition.

Spanish-language commercial networks[edit]

  • Univisión – The flagship property of corporate parent Univision Communications, Univision was formed in 1986 following the sale of predecessor Spanish International Network (SIN) to Hallmark from Mexican broadcaster Televisa due to federal laws that restrict foreign ownership of U.S. television networks. The network airs a mix of telenovelas, news and variety programming (either produced by the network or sourced primarily from Televisa), as well as soccer events and occasional Mexican-imported feature films. It is the nation's largest commercial Spanish-language network, with approximately 120 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations (including over 50 full-power stations); Univision is available in markets without an over-the-air affiliate via a national feed that is distributed to cable and satellite providers. Most of its stations produce and/or broadcast local newscasts, usually limited to weekday evening timeslots in most markets. Since the mid-2000s, Univision has ranked as the fifth highest-rated commercial network overall on average, currently placing ahead of English language competitor The CW.[22]
  • Telemundo – Telemundo is a general entertainment network owned by NBC Universal; the network carries a mix of original and imported telenovelas, general and entertainment news programs, feature films (both dubbed and natively produced in Spanish), sports and variety programming (much of the network's programming is filmed in the network's homebase of Miami, although its imported programming is sourced from Mexico, Colombia and to a lesser extent, Brazil). The nation's second-largest commercial Spanish-language network, Telemundo has over 100 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations (including approximately 40 full-power stations); it is also available in Mexico and Puerto Rico (where it was founded in 1954 as the brand name for WKAQ-TV). Most Telemundo stations air local newscasts, primarily aired in evening timeslots, although some affiliates also produce public affairs programming.
  • Azteca (originally known as Azteca América from 2001 to 2014) – Azteca is a general entertainment network owned by Azteca International Corporation, featuring programming primarily sourced from the Mexican Azteca networks (though much of the American network's programming airs at different times), along with original and imported programming from other U.S. and Latin American distributors; it carries a mix of telenovelas, feature films (both dubbed and natively produced in Spanish), sports, news and variety programming. Azteca maintains nearly 90 affiliates (including eight full-power stations), and is the nation's third-largest commercial Spanish-language network.
  • MundoFox – MundoFox is a general entertainment network operated as a joint venture between the Fox International Channels subsidiary of 21st Century Fox and Colombian broadcaster RCN Televisión SA. Launched in August 2012, the network broadcasts original and imported telenovelas and teleseries, as well as feature films (both dubbed and natively produced in Spanish), news and variety programming, with some imported content being sourced by RCN and NTN24. MundoFox maintains approximately 60 affiliate stations (consisting of mostly low-power stations with some full-power affiliates, with some Fox Television Stations-owned outlets carrying the network via subchannel-only affiliations to alleviate availability issues in markets where the network has a low-power affiliate and/or limited cable distribution), and is the nation's fourth-largest commercial Spanish-language network. Some MundoFox stations air local newscasts, while some also carry public affairs programs.
  • UniMás (known as Telefutura from its launch in January 2002 until January 2013) – UniMás is a general entertainment network owned by Univision Communications, which airs a mix of original and imported programming, consisting of telenovelas, Spanish-dubbed versions of U.S. feature films and sports programming aimed primarily at teenagers and young adults ages 12 to 34. UniMás maintains nearly 45 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations (including 35 full-power stations), and is the third-largest commercial Spanish-language network in the U.S.
  • Estrella TV – Estrella TV is a general entertainment network owned by Liberman Broadcasting; it airs mainly original variety programming, as well as general and entertainment news programming, limited scripted programming and imported Mexican feature films. The network was launched in 2009, featuring programming originally produced for the Liberman-owned Spanish language independent stations that formed the nucleus of the network. Estrella TV maintains nearly 35 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations (most of which are owned by Liberman or carry the network as a subchannel-only affiliation), and is the sixth-largest commercial Spanish-language network; it is also available nationally on select cable providers.
  • Multimedios Televisión – Multimedios is a general entertainment network based out of Monterrey, Nuevo León which features mainly live studio variety programming and news, and is a major regional network in Northeastern Mexico which also features several stations along the Southern Texas border, and tailors their programming (and through local stations, news programming) to both Mexican and American viewers. The network is distributed through several separately owned over-the-air affiliates in the United States mainly in the Southwest and southern Texas, and nationally through cable providers, though not American satellite services.
  • LATV – LATV is a bilingual general entertainment network owned by LATV Networks, LLC; originated as a programming format on KJLA in Los Angeles, the network's lone owned-and-operated station, it became a national network in 2007. It relies largely on unscripted programming aimed at young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, featuring a mix of variety, music, lifestyle and talk programs (most of which are sourced by MVS Television and Multimedios Television); LATV also airs a limited amount of English language programming, including overnight content from cable/satellite shopping network Liquidation Channel. LATV maintains nearly 40 owned-and-operated and affiliate stations (available mostly on low-power stations).
  • TeleXitos (originally known as Exitos TV from 2012 to December 2014) – TeleXitos is a digital multicast network owned by NBCUniversal; maintaining affiliations with 15 Telemundo owned-and-operated stations,[23][24] the network originally carried a format featuring repeats of telenovelas (mainly those aired by Telemundo), before rebranding in December 2014 to feature Spanish dubbed versions of U.S. classic action-adventure series and feature films, effectively acting as a Spanish counterpart to fellow network Cozi TV.[25]

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 Gala TV) have certain stations which can be received in parts of the United States 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 CW affiliate XETV-TDT in Tijuana) maintain affiliations with U.S.-based English or Spanish networks, but mainly target 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 television 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.

Non-commercial networks[edit]

Public/cultural/educational non-commercial[edit]

  • PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) – PBS is the largest public broadcasting network in the U.S., with somewhat decentralized operations (PBS is essentially owned through a consortium of its member stations, reversing the traditional network-station ownership model). The network operates or has operated 24-hour program feeds carried part-time or full-time by its member stations, the PBS Satellite Service (which maintains feeds for the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones, and was originally conceived as a cable-only channel for areas not served by a PBS station), PBS YOU (devoted largely to adult education, crafts, and public affairs programming, which ceased operations in January 2006), PBS Kids Channel (a children's programming network, which was discontinued on October 1, 2005 in favor of the advertiser-supported cable channel PBS Kids Sprout). PBS allows its member stations to run the network's programs out of pattern; member stations generally produce their own local programming in the form of news (mainly weekly news/analysis series, though a few stations carry daily newscasts), documentary and lifestyle programming that is aired alongside the PBS schedule.
  • NYCTV – NYCTV is the broadcasting service of the City of New York, which offers original programming. Available nationally on PBS stations, NYCTV in actuality, serves as a provider of programming to several noncommercial broadcasters in New York outside of its originating station, WNYE-TV.
  • Annenberg Channel – Originally known as Annenberg/CPB Channel and formerly operating as a national educational access network for public broadcasters and schools, Annenberg Channel was available on some cable and satellite providers; it now operates as an online streaming service that is offered for carriage by broadcast stations and cable providers; many of the channel's broadcast affiliates carried its programming to fill overnight and "fringe" timeslots (with only a few still doing so). It shared some programming with PBS YOU, various university- and college-owned stations around the U.S., and the now defunct Research Channel.
  • Deutsche Welle (DW TV) – Deutsche Welle is a Germany-based noncommercial television service which provides some English-language news programming to public television stations; its programming feed is available part-time on select educational independent stations.
  • Create – Create is a digital multicast network owned by American Public Television (in partnership with PBS, member stations WGBH-TV, WNET and WLIW, and the National Educational Television Association), offering instructional (consisting of cooking, crafts and home improvement series) and travel programming; the network was launched in January 2006 in part to fill the void left by the shut down of PBS YOU, and its primarily carried on the subchannels of PBS member stations.
  • World (sometimes informally referred to as "PBS World") – World is a digital multicast network owned by American Public Television (in partnership with PBS, WGBH-TV, WNET, WLIW and the National Educational Television Association), which primarily carries news and documentary programming.

Religious[edit]

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

Defunct networks[edit]

  • American Independent Network – A commercial broadcast network, which operated from the mid-1990s to December 3, 2001; predecessor to UATV
  • America's Store – A cable and satellite shopping network spun off from the Home Shopping Network, which operated from 1988 to April 3, 2007; its broadcast affiliates were a mix of stations that carried the network full-time as well as overnight clearances on minor network affiliates and independent stations.
  • AZN Television (originally known as International Channel) – A broadcast and cable network, which operated from 1996 to April 9, 2008, featuring a mix of international programming, which launched before the advent of digital cable and satellite services that allowed carriage of various foreign networks; the AZN iteration offered programming aimed at English-speaking Asian-Americans.
  • Badger Television Network – A short-lived television network consisting of three stations in Wisconsin; operated from January to August 1958.
  • The Box (originally Video Jukebox Network) – A music video network with a viewer request format, which operated from 1985 to 2001, at which time the network was purchased by Viacom and replaced by MTV2. All of MTV2's remaining broadcast affiliates were former affiliates of The Box.
  • Channel America – A commercial broadcast network which operated from 1988 to 1995; it was the first commercial television network whose affiliate body was intentionally made up of low-power stations, serving as a model for Pax and AIN/UATV, and a predecessor of America One.
  • CV Network (formally CaribeVisión) – A Spanish-language network, which operated from 2007 to July 31, 2012; network closed prior to the launch of MundoFox.
  • DuMont Television Network – A commercial broadcast network owned by DuMont Laboratories, which operated from 1946 to 1956; most of its owned-and-operated stations are now owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox as O&Os of the Fox network.[3]
  • Hispanic Television Network – A family-oriented Spanish-language network, which operated from 2000 to July 10, 2003.
  • Hughes Television Network (HTN; originally Sports Network Incorporated) – A sports-based broadcast network later owned by businessman Howard Hughes, which operated from 1956 to the 1970s.
  • LAT TV – A Spanish-language network offering family-oriented and educational programming, which operated from May 19, 2006 to May 20, 2008.
  • MGM Family Network – A commercial broadcast network, which launched in 1973.
  • Más Música – A Spanish-language music video network, which operated from 1998 to January 2006; predecessor of Tr3s.
  • Mizlou Television Network – An occasional over-the-air broadcast network and sports syndication service, which operated from 1961 to 1991.
  • Mobil Showcase Network – An occasional over-the-air broadcast network, which operated in the 1950s.
  • MTV2 – A general entertainment and music network owned by Viacom, which remains distributed mainly on cable and satellite providers; it became a broadcast network on January 1, 2001 when it assumed the operations of The Box, but slowly dropped its broadcast affiliates in subsequent years as existing affiliation contracts expired.
  • National Educational Television (NET) – An educational broadcast network, which operated from 1952 to 1970; serves as a predecessor to PBS.
  • NBC Weather Plus – A weather-oriented digital multicast network owned by NBC Universal, which operated from November 15, 2004 to December 31, 2008; some affiliates subsequently replaced the service with an automated local weather channel under the brand NBC Plus.
  • Network One (N1) – A small independent network featuring a mix of acquired and first-run programming, which operated from the mid-1990s to November 13, 1997.
  • Overmyer Network (ON; launched as the United Network, not to be confused with UPN) – A short-lived commercial network, which operated from May 1 to June 1, 1967.
  • Paramount Television Network – A commercial broadcast network owned by Paramount Pictures, which operated from 1949 to 1953; most of its partner stations were also affiliates of major broadcast networks, relegating it to secondary affiliations in most markets.
  • PBS Kids – A digital multicast network operated by PBS, which operated from 1999 to 2005; some of its functions were assumed by the advertiser-supported cable network PBS Kids Sprout, while some of PBS' member stations and state networks carry independently programmed digital subchannels featuring children's programs produced for broadcast on the network and through public television syndication. PBS originally planned to launch a successor service, PBS Kids Go!, in October 2006, which never launched. The PBS Kids name remains in use as the branding for PBS' children's programming block.
  • PBS YOU ("YOU" being an initialism for "Your Own University") – A public television network featuring a mix of instructional, news/commentary and documentary programs, which operated from the late 1990s to 2006. Many of its affiliates joined Create, a similar service from American Public Television that focuses more on craft and travel programming, after YOU ceased operations.
  • PTL Satellite Network – An Evangelical Christian religious network founded by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, which operated from 1977 to 1987; it was known for its flagship program, the PTL Club. The network collapsed in the wake of a sex and embezzlement scandal that resulted in Jim Bakker being sentenced to prison.
  • Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN) – An ad-hoc syndication service operated by the Prime Time Consortium, a joint venture between Warner Bros. Television and Chris-Craft Industries, in conjunction with the service's affiliates, which operated from September 1993 to September 1997; most of PTEN's affiliates would join The WB and UPN when those networks launched in January 1995, with stations subsequently pushing its programming to other timeslots not programmed by The WB and UPN.
  • Retro Jams – A digital multicast music video network, which operated from 2007 to 2008; it was carried by some low-power stations owned by Equity Media Holdings, most of which replaced it with the Retro Television Network; the music video format reappeared in 2009 after Equity terminated its affiliation agreements with RTN.
  • SFM Holiday Network – A limited-run ad-hoc network that specialized in Christmas specials.
  • Shop at Home Network – A home shopping network available on broadcast and cable television, which operated from 1987 to 2008; its broadcast affiliates were a mix of stations that carried the network full-time as well as overnight clearances on minor network affiliates and independent stations.
  • SOI TV – A small Spanish-language network, which operated from March 2012 to January 2013. Launched with a $20 million investment, it was founded by a Venezuelan banker and former political prisoner under that country's president Hugo Chavez, who was granted asylum in the U.S.; the network used interactive broadcast technologies allowing real-time response by viewers regarding its television content via Twitter and Facebook. SOI's programming was carried by cable network La Familia beginning in December 2012;[26] while NBCUniversal owned Telemundo stations formerly carried the network on their digital subchannels until January 2013.[27]
  • Spanish International Network (SIN) – A Spanish-language commercial network, which operated from 1961 to 1986; it is a predecessor to Univisión.
  • Star Television Network - This classic television network was in planning as early as 1987 and launch in 1990 only to fold in 1991.[28]
  • The Tube Music Network – A music video-focused digital multicast network, which operated from 2004 to October 2007, when it folded due to financial difficulties.
  • ThinkBright – A New York-based public broadcasting network.
  • TuVisión – A Spanish-language commercial network owned by Pappas Telecasting Companies, which operated from 2007 to 2009.
  • TVS Television Network – A sports programming syndication service, which had its peak years in the 1960s and 1970s. It continued to provide limited programming from then on until the company ceased operations in 2012.
  • UPN (formerly an initialism for the "United Paramount Network") – A conventional general entertainment network originally owned by Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries (whose interest was acquired by Viacom in 2000, and was later spun off to CBS Corporation in 2005); operating from January 16, 1995 to September 15, 2006, CBS Corporation shut down the network to form The CW, in conjunction with The WB's co-parent Time Warner.
  • Universal Sports (formerly World Championship Sports Network) – A digital multicast network offering sports programming, consisting mainly of events sanctioned for play in the Olympic Games, which operated from 2005 to December 31, 2011; at its peak, it had 56 subchannel-only affiliates (including all of NBC's owned-and-operated stations). Universal Sports transitioned into a cable and satellite-only channel on January 1, 2012.
  • Urban America Television (UATV) – A successor to the American Independent Network, which operated from December 3, 2001 to May 1, 2006. UATV was a small network with approximately 60 affiliates at its peak, carrying a mix of original programming, and older films and series.
  • Variety Television Network – A digital multicast network owned by Newport Television, whose stations served as its affiliates, which operated from 2007 to January 2009.
  • The WB – A conventional general entertainment network owned by Time Warner and the Tribune Company that operated from January 11, 1995 to September 17, 2006; Time Warner shut down the network to form The CW, in conjunction with UPN parent CBS Corporation.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Nielsen estimates 116.3 million TV homes in the U.S., up 0.4%". Nielsen N.V. May 5, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Although ABC, NBC, and CBS were founded prior to 1946, those companies did not begin continuous over the air TV broadcasting until 1946 (NBC) and 1948 (ABC and CBS).
  3. ^ a b 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)
  4. ^ a b 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. MyNetwork TV was created by the Fox Broadcasting Company to give programming to several Fox-owned UPN affiliates, upon the shutdown of UPN.
  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. ^ Date at which the Spanish International Network (founded in 1962) was reorganized and became Univision.
  7. ^ UniMás was originally launched as Telefutura in January 2002, before rebranding under its current name in January 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The Top 25 Digital Broadcast Networks". tvnewscheck.com (NewsCheckMedia). June 17, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ Mas Musica TV was purchased by Viacom in January 2006; it merged with MTV en Español to form MTV Tr3s on September 25 of that year.
  10. ^ http://www.ionmedianetworks.com/business/ion-television
  11. ^ a b These channels are available over the air on digital channels or digital subchannels only.
  12. ^ "Stations for Network - AMG TV". RabbitEars.Info. SatelliteGuys. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Network founded by Lowell "Bud" Paxson
  14. ^ Jewelry Television has around three direct affiliates; most other stations carrying its programming are indirectly affiliated with the network through Shop at Home.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ a b c d These networks are carried only on the digital subchannels of local TBN affiliates, and are owned by TBN.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Although Cornerstone Television was founded in 1970, the network did not begin even limited broadcasts until 1979.
  20. ^ Date at which WHTV acquired two additional stations. World Harvest Television is a product of LeSea Broadcasting.
  21. ^ Andrew Dodson (October 25, 2013). "TV Scout Brings Program Grid To Over-The-Air TV". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  22. ^ Sara Bibel (May 21, 2013). "Season-to-Date: Univision Increases Total Viewers, While ABC, Fox and NBC Decline". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Exitos is NBCUniversal Largest Subchannel Network - Subchannel Report". Across Platforms. 
  24. ^ Michael Insalaco. "22 Spanish Networks Are On Full-Power Subchannels - Subchannel Report". Across Platforms.  Report data posted here.
  25. ^ Diana Marszalek (December 1, 2014). "Telemundo Stations Debut Classic TV Diginet". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  26. ^ Michael Kokernak. "La Familia cable network to nest SOI TV programming". Across Platforms. 
  27. ^ "Programming Reports - SOI TV". Comcast. 
  28. ^ Strother, Susan G. (January 17, 1991). "Tv Network Signs Off - Out Of Cash". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 20, 2015.