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. From 1956 to 1986, the national commercial networks were ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Today, more than 50 nationwide broadcasting networks exist. Other than the non-commercial educational (NCE) Public Broadcasting Service (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 which feature reruns of recent popular shows with little or no original programs. Fox has just about the same percentage of households reached 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 over the last decade. 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 more programming options through digital subchannels. A number of new commercial networks airing specialty programming such as movies, reruns of classic shows and lifestyle programs have been created from companies like Weigel Broadcasting, Luken Communications and the major networks. There have also been a number of new Spanish-language networks that have launched as well as some new non-commercial public television channels.

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," and millions of households across the country tune in. 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.

There are an estimated 116.3 million television households in the United States as of the 2014-2015 TV season. [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 networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
NBC1946[1]97%112,811,000Commercial226~338
CBS1948[1]97%112,811,000Commercial215~299
ABC1948[1]97%112,811,000Commercial229~266
Fox1986[2]97%112,811,000Commercial223~202
The CW2006[3]95%110,485,000Commercial204~11

Public television networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
PBS1969[4]96%111,648,000Nonprofit349~342
CreateJanuary 10, 200670%81,410,000Public TV/Instructional2140
WorldAugust 15, 200759%68,617,000News & Documentaries1600
V-me200747%54,661,000Spanish Educational511
MHz WorldView / MHz Networks200131%36,053,000Educational/International291
NHK World18%20,934,000Japanese News and Information70
France 24December 6, 200614%16,282,000International News54
FNX (First Nations Experience)9%10,467,000Native American Programming62
MiND (MiND: Media Independence)May 15, 20079%10,467,000Multicultural, educational20
Classic Arts Showcase19946%6,978,000Non-commercial performance art video clips33
DW-TV (Deutsche Welle)19532%2,326,000Multicultural02
Minnesota Channel20052%2,326,000Educational television, public affairs, ethnic and local programming170

Spanish-language networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
Univision1986[5]55%63,580,000Spanish Commercial4613
Telemundo195454%62,424,000Spanish Commercial4826
UniMás2002 (as Telefutura) 201362%[6]54,332,000Spanish Commercial3510
MundoFox201254%[6]58.956,000Spanish Commercial2539
LATV200150%[6]43,928,000Bilingual(English/Spanish) Entertainment2716
Azteca200141%[6]45,084,000Spanish Commercial1428
Estrella TV200927%[6]47,396,000Spanish Commercial2819
Exitos TV30%34,680,000150
TeLe-Romántica201218%20,808,000311
CNN en Español199716%18,496,000News16
ZUUS Latino13%15,028,000Music Videos127
Inmigrante TV201012%13,872,00051
Mega TV20065%5,780,00031
MultimediosUnknown2%2,312,000Spanish Commercial62
Tres[7]19980.7%809,200Spanish Music Videos05
MexicanalAugust 23, 20050.45%520,200Mexican Programming01

Genre-based and general entertainment television networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
MyNetworkTVSeptember 5, 2006[3]91%105,196,000Commercial/Syndication service162~40
Me-TV201091%[6]97,104,000Classic TV shows15521
This TV200885%[6]94,792,000Movies & TV shows11418
Bounce TV201172%[6]78,608,000African-American Programming868
Antenna TV201170%[6]80,920,000Classic TV shows and movies8012
GetTV201467%77,921,000Classic Movies624
Ion TelevisionAugust 31, 1998 (as PaxTV)64% (OTA only)73,984,000[8]Commercial/Syndication service6522
qubo200765%[6]72,828,000Commercial (Children's)61 [9]4
Cozi TV201350%58,150,000Classics/Movies/Lifestyle4011
GritAugust 18, 201449%56,987,000Action/Westerns/Men's Interest450
EscapeAugust 18, 201448%55,824,000Suspence/Drama/Women's Interest332
Movies!201344%[6]49,708,000Feature films325
Retro TV200535%40,705,000Commercial, reruns2462
ZUUS Country200925%[6]35,836,00024/7 Country Music videos256
The Works201421%24,423,000News and Entertainment92
Soul of the South NetworkMay 27, 201319%22,097,000African-American Programming616
AMGTV20069%10,467,000Commercial, family214
Launch TV20149%10,467,000Independent Programming116
The Family Channel2008 (as My Family TV) 2014[6]9%10,476,000Classic Movies/TV524
HeartlandNovember 1, 20128%9,304,000Country Music & Lifestyle1018
PBJSeptember 20118%9,304,000Children's/Classic Cartoons432
TheCoolTV20096%5,780,000Music videos23
Mi Casa BroadcastingSept. 20142%2,326,000English-language Hispanic programming05
Punch TV20121.5%1,744,500Urban & Independent programming07

News, sports and lifestyle networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
Live Well NetworkApril 27, 200965%[6]73,984,000Health/Lifestyle643
Ion Life200565%[6]72,828,000Health/Lifestyle
Occasional movies
60 [9]3
Tuff TV200922%[6]25,432,000Male interest programming333
WeatherNation TV201118%20,934,000Weather202
Biz Television200918%20,934,000Business and financial information210
AccuWeather Channel200616%18,608,000Weather264
America One200311%12,716,000Commercial/Sports/Lifestyle233
TouchVisionSeptember 16, 20138%9,248,000News and Information23
Untamed Sports TV20081%1,156,000Sports/Outdoors22
Frost Great Outdoors20110.5%578,000Outdoors/Shopping05
Pursuit Channel20080.15%173,400Sports and recreation03

Shopping networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
QVC198659%68,204,000Commercial/Infomercial4813
HSN1985[10]59%68,204,000Commercial/Infomercial4146
JewelryTV[11][12]199315%17,340,000Commercial/Infomercial415
Corner Store TVUnknown7%8.092,000Commercial/Infomercial06
ShopHQ19912%2,312,000Commercial/Infomercial20

Program Guide networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
TV Scout201210%11,590,000EPG010

Religious television networks[edit]

Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
Daystar198256%64,736,000Religious2366
enlace[13]2006?45%52,020,000Spanish-Language Religious programming379
TBN197344%50,864,000Religious3910
Smile of a Child TV[13]December 24, 200544%50,864,000Religious Children's TV3512
JUCE TV[13][14](formerly JCTV)200344%50,864,000Religious Youth Programming/Music Videos
3610
The Church Channel[13]2002?44%50,864,000Religious359
SonLife Broadcasting Network201035%40,460,000Religious525
3ABN198429%33,524,000Religious2133
3ABN Latino200322%25,432,000Spanish Religious0124
Peace TV200620%23,120,000Religious (Islamic)09
Almavision200218%20,808,000Spanish Religious011
Dare to Dream Network201017%19,652,000Religious0101
3ABN Proclaim!201014%16,184,000Religious0109
Cornerstone Television[15]1979[16]14%16,184,000Religious217
TCT19776%6,936,000Religious85
The Walk TVJanuary 11, 20105%5,780,000Religious312
CTN19795%5,780,000Religious115
God TV19955%5,780,000Religious22
WHT1985[17]5%5,780,000Religious74
Tele Vida Abundante5%5,780,000Spanish Religious1 ??
FamilyNetUnknown2%2,312,000Religious114
EWTN19812%2,312,000Religious (Catholic)13
Hope ChannelOctober 10, 20031.5%1,734,000Religious06
The Word Network20001.5%1,734,000Religious22
La Familia Cosmovision2002?1%1,156,000Spanish Religious01
TLN19731%1,156,000Religious10
Tvida Vision20050.7%809,200Spanish Religious02
The Worship Network[10]19920.6%693,600Religious01
GLC19820.25%289,000Religious50
Television NetworkFounded % of U.S. households reached# of households viewableType of Television network# of Full-Power Affiliates# of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters

English-language American commercial over-the-air television networks[edit]

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 ShopHQ.

Several of the religious broadcasting networks have out-of-pattern clearance arrangement with their broadcast affiliates, notably FamilyNet, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Three Angels Broadcasting Network, Hope Channel and World Harvest Television. And, of course, the Public Broadcasting Service also allows its member stations to run their programs out of pattern.

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

Additionally, both The WB and UPN were referred to as weblets by Variety because of their smaller audiences and fewer programs. CW and MyNet have more often been called netlets, which has the same definition.

Spanish-language American commercial over-the-air television networks[edit]

Additionally, Televisa, which distributes programming to Univision in the United States, operates in Mexico, but their networks (Canal de las Estrellas, Canal 5, and Galavisión) have certain stations which can be seen in areas of the U.S. along and near the Mexican border, and likewise with the American networks in border cities towards Mexico.

Some Mexican border stations (such as Tijuana's XETV-TV) are affiliates of American networks and target their American border city more than their Mexican metropolitan area, broadcasting in English or Spanish, depending on network.

All Spanish-language broadcast networks operate a national feed carried on cable and satellite systems where an affiliate is not present. Univision has a larger cable-only distribution than the other commercial Spanish-language networks and therefore may be carried in more homes than the amount listed in the above table. Spanish-language independent stations also exist, though they are mainly limited to large markets.

The Spanish-language networks have a smaller amount of affiliates than "The Big Three" English-language networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and PBS, though they still occupy a large share of the country and with a growing Latino population, the number of Spanish-language network affiliates in the United States has increased.

Unlike the English-language broadcast networks, Univision, Telemundo, Azteca America and UniMás do not rely on their affiliate stations to program the majority of the broadcast day as the networks themselves are wholly responsible for handling programming for its affiliates. However, affiliates are allowed to break away from the network feed to offer some locally produced programming (mainly consisting of local newscasts or lifestyle programming).

American non-commercial television networks[edit]

Public/cultural/educational non-commercial[edit]

Religious[edit]

Defunct American television networks[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 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).
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Although PBS was initially established in 1969, it assumed full-time broadcasts on October 5, 1970 to replace its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET).
  5. ^ Date at which the Spanish International Network (founded in 1962) was reorganized and became Univision.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Top 25 Digital Broadcast Networks". tvnewscheck.com (NewsCheckMedia). June 17, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ Mas Musica TV was purchased by Viacom in January of 2006. It merged with MTV en Español to form MTV Tr3s on Sept. 25, 2006.
  8. ^ http://www.ionmedianetworks.com/business/ion-television
  9. ^ a b These channels are available over the air on digital channels or digital subchannels only.
  10. ^ a b Network founded by Lowell "Bud" Paxson
  11. ^ Jewelry Television has around 3 direct affiliates. Most other stations carrying its programming are indirectly affiliated with the network through Shop at Home.
  12. ^ Shop at Home only broadcasts programming overnights, and thus full affiliates of the network carry Jewelry Television during the day.
  13. ^ a b c d These networks are carried only on the digital subchannels of local TBN affiliates, and are owned by TBN.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Cornerstone Television isn't considered a network in the traditional definition of a TV network, rather it is a distributor of in-house produced programming. Although the main station, WPCB-TV Pittsburgh is on many owned and operated translators, its Full Power and LPTV "affiliates" typically air one or two Cornerstone Television produced programs per week scheduled at different times than the main Corerstone station and do not identify themselves as "Cornerstone Television" affiliates.
  16. ^ Although Cornerstone Television was founded in 1970, the network did not begin even limited broadcasts until 1979.
  17. ^ Date at which WHTV acquired two additional stations. World Harvest Television is a product of LeSea Broadcasting.
  18. ^ Dodson, Andrew. (October 25, 2013) TV Scout Brings Program Grid To Over-The-Air TV. TV News Check. Accessed on November 22, 2013.
  19. ^ Exitos is NBCUniversal Largest Subchannel Network. Subchannel Report. Across Platforms.
  20. ^ Insalaco, Michael. 22 Spanish Networks Are On Full-Power Subchannels ( Report data). Subchannel Report. Across Platforms.
  21. ^ Kokernak, Michael. La Familia cable network to nest SOI TV programming.
  22. ^ SOI TV. Programming Reports. Comcast.

External links[edit]