MGM Signs Long Term Affiliation Agreement for THIS TV with Tribune Broadcasting, Including WPIX New York
Earning the distinction of becoming one of the fastest growing new television entertainment networks in the US, THIS TV, the 24/7 free programming network for digital broadcasters, continues its rapid expansion as it builds fierce viewer loyalty nationwide.
MGM Worldwide Television announced today it has signed a long term affiliation agreement for THIS TV with Tribune Broadcasting, securing renewals on existing stations and achieving new clearances in key markets. THIS TV will pick up Tribune stations as new affiliates in New York, Miami, St. Louis, San Diego and Grand Rapids. At the same time, THIS TV has renewed its existing affiliation agreements with Tribune stations in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Denver, Indianapolis/Bloomington, Hartford and New Orleans.
MGM and Tribune have also formed a strategic partnership designed to continue to grow the digital network, which is now carried by stations reaching over 85% of the country. MGM also announced it has reached an agreement with The Nielsen Company, which will provide national ratings for THIS TV.
THIS TV, which was created and is operated jointly by MGM and Weigel Broadcasting, was launched in November of 2008.
In making the announcement, Jim Packer, Co-President, MGM Worldwide Television, stated: “We have strengthened the THIS TV national platform with our new affiliation agreement and strategic partnership with Tribune. THIS TV is already by far the leader in the digital network space and this will further cement us as the prime leader in the digital spectrum. THIS TV’S free programming service provides a meaningful, affordable and therefore competitive option for viewers who otherwise would have to rely on paid services to gain access to the diverse, 24/7 programming available through THIS TV.”
Sean Compton, President of Programming for Tribune Broadcasting, said: “MGM has successfully built THIS TV into a valuable programming network for local stations in this digital age. THIS TV is now the only movie channel for homes without cable and the viewer response has been overwhelming. The existing ratings for the network prove that there are a lot of digital growth opportunities and we are pleased to capitalize on them with THIS TV.”
“Each month, as more THIS TV affiliates begin service, more communities have access to a new free entertainment option that optimizes local TV stations’ digital spectrum,” said John Bryan, Executive Vice President, Broadcast Strategy at MGM. “We are also pleased to be able to provide more children’s educational and informational shows, exceeding the FCC requirement and, as an additional benefit to viewers, the network does not schedule paid programming. The number of people discovering THIS TV as a free over-the-air network is growing daily.”
Norman Shapiro, President of Weigel Broadcasting, said: “From Day One in November, 2008 when MGM and Weigel launched THIS TV with only 4 affiliates, to today’s announcement where THIS TV will soon cover 85% of the country, MGM has done a fantastic job distributing THIS TV. This speaks to MGM’s focus, the quality of the programming, the professionalism of the network and basically that THIS TV is an idea whose time has come. And I am delighted that Tribune Broadcasting has signed on with a long term commitment that further reinforces THIS TV’s growth.”
THIS TV continues to attract strong viewership among consumers without cable as well as those consumers who are viewing THIS TV on their local cable systems. Currently, THIS TV is available in approximately 40 million cable homes nationwide as well as its over the air signal. Programmed on the strength of MGM’s diverse library of over 4,100 films and 10,000 hours of television programs, THIS TV is a different kind of national network, with an innovative model that promotes the Federal Communications Commission’s bedrock goals for broadcasters namely, diversity, competition and localism. In regards to localism, THIS TV allows stations to preempt for local news, sports, weather, public affairs and community events. WMC, the affiliate in Memphis, for example, aired local college and high school football games as part of its localized version of THIS TV, while KLTV in Tyler, Texas aired the Texas Gubernatorial Debate and KSLA in Shreveport offered “High School Football Saturdays in the South.”
THIS TV is also providing program diversity in two important areas. With its weekly schedule of Educational/Informational (E/I) children’s programming, THIS TV exceeds the FCC’s three-hour weekly E/I requirement; THIS TV also makes E/I programming available to its affiliates throughout the week, not just on weekends when traditional networks typically provide their affiliates with E/I programming. The Commission’s diversity goal is further advanced by the local news and other local programming developed and aired by THIS TV affiliates due to THIS TV’s flexible preemption policy.
The drawing power of THIS TV was recently confirmed on March 20, 2010, when Clint Eastwood’s “Hang ‘em High” attracted 481,000 households with 597,000 viewers. The movie beat out the competition, outperforming such cable networks as We-TV, VH1, CMT, G4 and The Travel Channel.