Digital Subchannels: Wants & Projections

depereguy's picture

I'm fairly new to OTA, been a cable subscriber for a long time, so the existance of subchannels is fairly new and exciting. I feel like I may be the only one excited because in the time I spent searching for information on what the local stations might do, I've come up completely empty. I was wondering what everyone here thought the local stations might do with their subchannels and what everyone wants them to do (certainly..."doing nothing" is a valid response). Here are my wants and guesses, let me know yours.

ABC is multicasting weather and RTN: don't want anything else from them.
PBS is multicasting the Wisconsin channel and Create/Kids: this is alright...don't have enough experience with the channels to have an opinion yet. I am glad Kids has some daytime hours.

Fox, CBS, NBC, MyN, and CW do not have any.

Fox: I wouldn't mind seeing them have a 24hr news channel. I have pretty low expectations with this being a LIN TV station. According to, LIN owns 31 stations and only a handful are multicasting. All of the multicasts are plug and play weather channels too. Maybe they are keeping their options open, but they don't seem to be experimenting with much right now. Also I want my Packer games in 1080i.

CW: I could see The CW multicasting something like This TV or Untamed Sports. I'd be happy with one or both of those.

MyN: My "want" with MyN is for them to multicast the Ion channels, which I think they are the most likely station to do so. This would bring the Ion channel, Qubo (kid's programming), and Ion Life to our homes. If not, I could also see them doing something like This TV or Untamed Sports.

NBC: Two likely possibilities are Universal Sports and/or Mexicanal (latino programming). Universal Sports is being multicast on over 10% of NBC stations and a few NBC stations owned by the Journal Broadcast Group multicast Mexicanal.
Universal Sports wouldn't be bad to have, not a strong want though.

CBS: WFRV is my wild card in all of this. Being one of two TV stations owned by Liberty Media (Starz, Game Show Network, few FSN networks, Sirius Radio) it seems like they have the content to put together one or two great subchannels, whether they'd be able to make a profit on them...I'm not sure. My want is a variety channel with movies in the evening.

Other OTA channels to keep an eye on:
dot2 Network: Maybe too ambitious. Was suppose to launch in Dec 2008; delayed until later this year. Apparently they have a licensing agreement with Sony Pictures, so they would broadcast fairly current movies.
MeTV: Broadcast in Chicago/Racine/Milwaukee. Our proximity makes this one to keep an eye on. Content is similar to an RTN or This TV.

Posted March 24, 2009 2:07pm in
FoxCitiesTV's picture

For one thing, you're not

For one thing, you're not going to get Packer games on FOX in 1080i. FOX network broadcasts in 720p. Not sure why you'd want it in 1080i, because sports usually looks worse in 1080i (look at Sunday night football on NBC).

WLUK won't multicast. They've got bigger problems to deal with before thinking of multicasting.

Couldn't see WIWB (CW) multicasting because their signal is somewhat weak as it is. I doubt they've got the cash to do such a thing anyways.

WACY and WGBA are both Journal stations, and I think the biggest likelihood (if any) is the Mexicanal channel. Journal already has rights to it. Universal Sports would be a different animal. I think Journal's in the weeds right now so I doubt they'd bother multicasting in this market.

WFRV, in my opinion, would be the most likely player in multicasting but I'm not holding out much hope. They've already demonstrated, in my opinion, that they're the most technologically-adventurous in this market. They were first to broadcast a digital signal and the first to start programming syndicated programming in HD. If anyone other than WBAY recognizes the value of multicasting, I'd bet it's WFRV. I would highly doubt they would tap any of their cable properties though. They are, as far as I know, the only local station owned by Liberty. You'd be as likely to find Starz or GSN content on a WFRV multicast as you would see the FOX News Channel as a multicast on WLUK. It just would never happen.

I don't think ThisTV has gotten enough traction to make it to this market yet. None of the station groups operating in this market has implemented it anywhere else yet either. MeTV seems to be mainly on Weigel stations, so I'd doubt we'd ever see that here.

depereguy's picture

Thanks for the reply.

Thanks for the reply. You've been tracking this much longer than I have, so it isn't surprising to me to see I was way off on a few things.

So WFRV is not at an advantage compared to any other station because they are owned by Liberty when it comes to subchannel content?

FoxCitiesTV's picture

I don't think WFRV is at any

I don't think WFRV is at any greater advantage than anyone else as far as content.

Anonymous's picture

WIWB digital is broadcasting

WIWB digital is broadcasting from the tower farm in Green Bay now, where all the other stations are. Their signal should be just as strong as everyone's. It sure is at my location.

Willscary's picture

This is a great thread. I

This is a great thread. I will voice my thoughts...

I emailed every local station about subchannels and each one of them replied.

I live just west of New London. I can receive both the Green Bay and Wausau markets perfectly, and if I turn my antennas, I can see a few of the Eau Claire, La Crosse and Madison stations. I have a high tower, a great preamp, homemade custom cables and the best antennas that can be bought.

Wausau is a smaller market. It has all of the Green Bay networks and subchannels except for RTN. NBC out of Rhinelander (WJFW) also carries NBC Universal Sports and ABC out of Wausau (WAOW) carries ThisTV. CBS in Wausau (WSAW) carries local weather via AccuWeather, which is a lot like The Weather Channel and is better than the WBAY local weather loop, in my opinion. They also have an independent station owned by Paxton that carries the 4 Ion channels. This is the one Wausau channel that is too weak at my location to receive reliably.

OK, back to my first statement about emailing all of the stations (except WBAY and Wisconsin PBS, which are already full!)...WGBA and WACY strongly stated that they plan on taking advantage of digital subchannels, but not until after this digital transition is complete and the dust has settled. All of the other local stations with the exception of WLUK said that they were eventually planning on having subchannels, but nothing was in the works at this time. WIWB was the least committed of this group. WLUK was the one station that seemed annoyed by the question and showed aboslutely no interest in subchannels at this time.

I would like to see ION here, but Ion is a Paxson product and as such, the only way we would likely see it is if Paxson bought a failing station here or fired up a new one in this market.

MeTV is indeed a lot like RTN, but with, again in my opinion, slightly better programming. I would love to see this channel, and actually emailed Weigel Broadcasting. There is nothing planned out of their existing markets at this time, but they are not against expanding their reach.

ThisTV is an outstanding station. It is not like RTN. There are a few older MGM TV shows that are shown in the mornings, but after that, the network is all movies...some are TV movies, some are obscure "B" movies while others are fairly well known movies, all under the MGM label, as far as I can tell. We watch ThisTV a lot!

Universal Sports is not really my cup of tea, and I love sports! There have been times when I have watched for short periods of time, but the programming is not really anything that interests me. Still, having it in my Wausau channels does give me another choice of programming.

I have read about .2 network, and if it comes to fruition, it would be a great addition to the local subchannels. MyFamilyTV is another choice. I know little about these two channels other than what i have read.

I would love to see WLUK somehow pick up FSN-North so we could watch the Brewers, but I doubt it will ever happen.

My thoughts are that there will be new subchannels popping up in the years to come. I am willing to bet that home-shopping type channels will take over the airwaves, just as they have on cable and satellite. I hope that one of the major networks will spin off a 24 hour news channel as an OTA subchannel. I also expect more mainstream sports channels to pop up.

The way I see it, cable is just too expensive. Until payTV either becomes less expensive or moves to a-la-carte programming, people are going to begin moving away from it. In this economy, people need to cut expenses. PayTV is a luxury and at $50-$150/ month, there will be a lot of people dropping the services. This will put even more strain on an industry that has been struggling.

Since we dropped cable nearly 2 years ago, we have become completely satisfied with local OTA. Sure we miss a few things, but those few misses have been replaced by network programming that we never watched when we did have cable. We adapted and saved over $100/ month.

Just my opinion.


depereguy's picture

Bill- Thanks for sharing the


Thanks for sharing the research you've done so far. Your comments seem to support my low expectations for WLUK and Mark's comment earlier about WIWB not having the resources to add subchannels. At least there are 3 other stations that could add something in the next year or two.

I think you're right about new offerings of subchannels popping up. We are pretty early in the game. You'd think that more and more subchannels would pop up to fill the gaps between cable's lineup and the big networks. Guess we'll just have to be patient.

sIOUX 's picture

I am currently watching a

I am currently watching a movie on FOX 41, how ever the sub-channel code is "THIS" the movie that is on right now is not listed in the local TV Programing Guide, What is the "THIS" Channel? and how can I find out what the name of this movie is? I like the movie, it is about a Marine that is stationed in Europe, and his Sister gets killed in Madrid, and he The Marine goes looking for the killers, and gives up his comission in the Guard.

SeanM402's picture

Do you mean Fox 31? WFXS Fox

Do you mean Fox 31? WFXS Fox 55 in Wausau is broadcast on digital channel 31 and is mapped to appear on the station's former analog Channel 55. There is also a network called "This TV" which is a sub channel of ABC Wausau.

Anonymous's picture

Where's Fox 41?

Where's Fox 41?

Willscary's picture

You most likely need to

You most likely need to rescan your digital channels. Channel 9 (WAOW) has a relationship with channel 55 (WFXS) in Wausau. Channel 9 supplies the newscasts for Fox 55. Fox 55 is a new television station and as such, was not included in the original DTV transition "Table of Allotments" from the FCC. Therefore, Fox 55 was not allowed to begin broadcasting a digital signal (which is on physical channel 31) until February 17, 2009. They were allowed to test their signal a bit a few weeks earlier than the 2-17-09 date, but that was it. WFXS begain broadcasting, but then nearly immediately had a cooling pipe burst and the ensuing flood wiped out all of their electronics.

WAOW was a kind competitor and allowed WFXS to broadcast their digital signal on the WAOW subchannel 9.3 until the WFXS facilities were back up and running. Once WFXS was back to normal, WAOW added THIS TV as subchannel 9.3.

Your digital tuner in your house added channel 9.3 to its channel lineup when Fox 55 was being broadcast on that channel. It still shows it on your program guide. Try to rescan. If this does not work, unplug your antenna and rescan. Your channels should be then whiped out. You can then reconnect your antenna and rescan. Cnannel 9.3 will now be shown as THIS TV.


Dale Whitworth's picture

I'm waiting for the shoe to

I'm waiting for the shoe to drop....when the OTA channels become aware that they can, as a group, kick cable/satellite in the mouth, I'll be happy. Having used both for more years than I care, I'm excited about the offerings here in central Florida. My mother just had me cancel her Directv because she only watched one or two channels (Hallmark and Country) and spent most of the time watching the local news/sports/weather. My Directv irritates me because they claim I get over 500 channels but we only watch about 20 of them. If the local channels could duplicate things like Disney, Discovery, ESPN, etc. then I believe millions of people would switch back to OTA.
Living in the hurricane/thunderstorm center that I do, my conversations with Directv usually revolve around "rain fade." Their "experts" always tell me that it shouldn't happen, yet I get a 95 signal level during dry weather and a loss of signal (digital drops out sporadically) when a thunderstorm passes by. Tweaks haven't helped. And there have been literally weeks that went by that we didn't have at least one hour of outage PER DAY!
Great site and keep up the good work!


To comment on this story, please log in.  If you don't have an account, sign up for one.  It's free!

Recent Comments

TVfan1987: Time Warner Cable changed it's name to Spectrum Cable following the Charter merger.
on Time Warner subscribers to go to Charter, not...
Sunday, September 3 @ 6:07 pm
TVfan1987: WBAY is now owned by Gray Television.
on WBAY parent Young Broadcasting to merge with...
Sunday, September 3 @ 5:31 pm


In light of Time Warner's new "modem lease fee" for Road Runner, will you buy your own modem?:

New Members

kelcal2k1's picture
GEOPTION57's picture
chipdalemc's picture
Wittenberg, WI
unreal2k5's picture
UWFox Theatre's picture
UWFox Theatre
rando77's picture
Fond du Lac
rebel241973's picture
Meno's picture
Menominee, MI
TVfan1987's picture
Green Bay, Wisconsin
rdhjr98's picture