The Full Wiki

List of United States broadcast television networks: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


In the United States, for most of the history of broadcasting, there were only three or four major national broadcasting networks. From 1946-1956 these were ABC, CBS, NBC, and DuMont. From 1956-1986, the national networks were ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Today, more than 20 nationwide broadcasting networks exist. Other than the noncommercial PBS, the largest broadcast networks are the traditional Big Three Television Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). Many other large networks exist, however, notably Fox, MyNetworkTV, ION and The CW (formerly UPN and The WB). Fox has just a fraction of a percentage point fewer households reached than the Big Three, and is therefore often considered a peer to ABC, NBC, and CBS. Most media outlets now include Fox in what they refer to as the "Big Four" television networks.

Broadcast networks in the United States can be divided into four categories:

  • Commercial broadcasting networks (which air English-language programming to a general audience). Example: CBS
  • Spanish-language broadcasting networks. Example: Univision
  • Educational and other non-commercial broadcasting networks (which air English- and some foreign-language programming, intended to be educational or otherwise of a sort not found on commercial television). Example: PBS
  • Religious broadcasting networks. Example: Daystar

Each network sends its signal to many local TV 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 TV stations. In the case of the smallest networks, the signal may be sent to just a dozen or fewer stations.

There are an estimated 114.9 million television households in the United States as of the 2009-2010 TV season. [2]

Table of broadcast networks

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.


Table of broadcast television networks

Major English-language networks

Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
PBS 1969[1] ~99.00 ~113,751,000 Non-Profit 349 ~342
ABC 1948[2] 96.75 111,165,750 Commercial 229 ~266
NBC 1946[2] 97.17 111,648,330 Commercial 226 ~338
CBS 1948[2] 96.98 111,430,020 Commercial 215 ~299
Fox October 9, 1986[3] 96.18 110,510,820 Commercial 223 ~202
The CW[4] September 18, 2006 94% 108,006,000 Commercial 204 ~11
Ion Television August 31, 1998[5][6] 60% 68,940,000 Commercial 64 22

Spanish-language networks

Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
Univisión 1986[7] 49% 56,301,000 Spanish Commercial 44 ~72?
TeleFutura 2002 45% 51,705,100 Spanish Commercial 43 ~36?
Telemundo 1954 42% 48,258,500 Spanish Commercial 42 ~29?
V-me 2007 41% 47,109,000 Educational 45 1
LATV May 7, 2007 35% 40,215,000 Bilingual(English/Spanish) Music Videos 28 2
Estrella TV 2009 29% 33,330,000 Spanish commercial 21 3
Azteca América 2001 25% 28,725,000 Spanish Commercial 12 ~36?
MTV Tr3s[8] 1998 Spanish Music Videos 2 9
Telenoticias 1993 Spanish News >8
Multimedios Television Unknown 4% Spanish Commercial 12
HTV Unknown 4% Spanish Music Videos
HITN 1983 Unknown Unknown Educational Unknown Unknown
CV Network (Formally CaribeVisión) 2007 Unknown Unknown Commercial At least one (WJPX) At least two (WPXO-LP, and WFUN-LP)
Mexicanal August 23, 2005 4% 4,596,000 Mexican Programming 7 2
Galavisión 1979 ~1.71 ~2,683,030 Spanish Commercial 0 1

Specialty and digital terrestrial television networks

Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
Your Family Network 2003 74% 983,567,000 Broadband broadcasting/ Family, Exclusive programming 193 0
RTV 2005 58% 66,642,000 Commercial, reruns 79 25
ION Life 2005[5][6] 58% 66,000,000 Commercial ~60 [9 ]
qubo 2006[5][6] 58% 66,000,000 Commercial (Children's) ~60 [9 ]
This TV November 1, 2008 52% 59,748,000 commercial;
classic movies & TV shows
83 8
Dot 2 2009 ~20.63% 16
Universal Sports June 16, 2008 46.5% 53,428,500 Commercial: Sports 41 7
PBS World August 15, 2007 41% 47,109,000 Public broadcasting 102
A1 2003 19% 22,000,000 Commercial/minor league sports 13 107
FUNimation 2005 ~20.63 22,000,000 Commercial/animation 4 1
MHz Worldview / MHz Networks 2001 19% 21,831,000 Educational/International 22 [9 ] 0
The AccuWeather Channel 2004 39.5% 45,385,500 Local Weather Information 45 [9 ] 2
The Weather Channel 1982 ~12% ~12,450,000 Local Weather Information 1 (WCBS-TV) 5
Live Well HD Network April 27, 2009 ~24% 27,576,000 Health, Lifestyle 10
Minnesota Channel 2005 ~12% ~12,450,000 Educational television, public affairs, ethnic and local programming 15
ThinkBright ~8% Public broadcasting 9
WSTV January 2007 5
Classic Arts Showcase 1994 Non-commercial performance art video clips >9
OBN 2003 Commercial 0 1+
ImaginAsian 2004  ? Multicultural 1 2
Resort Sports Network 1986 ~2% ~2,450,000 Sports and Resort Information >1 5
AsiaVision Unknown ~6% ~9,450,000 Multicultural 3
TheCoolTV 2009 8.6% 9,881,400 Music videos 1 5
DW 1953 ~6% ~8,450,000 Multicultural 3 1
Pursuit Channel 2008 Sports and recreation  ? 6
AMGTV Unknown 3.8% Commercial, family 2 6
Bloomberg Television 1994 4%? 3,600,000? Financial news 0 2 (KSSY-LP and K09VR)
Fuse TV 1994 2%? 2,000,000? music videos 0 1 (K09VR)
AmericanLife TV Network May 1, 1985 Commercial, reruns Unknown 2 (WBQP-CA, KAZV-LP)
Untamed Sports TV 2008 4% 4,596,000 Sports 8 Unknown
Tuff TV 2009 0.46% 528,540 Male-oriented programming 2 0
MTV2 August 1, 1996[10] Unknown Unknown Music videos Unknown Unknown
SCOLA 1982 Educational Unknown Unknown

Shopping networks

Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
ShopNBC 1991  ? 50 million[11] Commercial/Infomercial 4? 3
HSN 1985[5]  ? unknown Commercial/Infomercial 11?
JewelryTV[12][13] 1993 Commercial/Infomercial 3?[12][13] 1 (sub-channel of K10PY-D
Gems TV Dec 2006 Commercial/Infomercial >1
Corner Store TV Unknown  ? unknown Commercial/Infomercial At least one (WRAP-CA)
QVC Commercial/Infomercial >1

Religious television networks

Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters
The Worship Network[5] 1992 60% 68,940,000 Religious 58
TBN 1973 42% 48,258,000 Religious 37 ~252
Smile of a Child[14] December 24, 2005 40% 45,960,000 Religious Children's TV 33 3
JCTV[14][15] 2003 40% 45,960,000 Religious Music Videos 33 3
The Church Channel[14] 2002? 40% 45,960,000 Religious 33 3
TBN Enlace USA[14] 2006? 40% 45,960,000 Spanish-Language Religious programming 32
LeSea "WHTV" 1985[16] 7% 8,043,000 Religious 6 >??
Daystar 1982 20% 22,980,000 Religious 18 ~25?
Gospel Broadcasting Network (GBN) 2005 Religious 2?
Cornerstone Television[17] 1979[18 ] ~11% ~15,400,300 Religious 33 44
CTN 1979 ~18.49 ~19,715,810 Religious 44 58
FamilyNet Unknown ~9.24 ~9,857,910 Religious 22 52[3]
TLN 1973 ~3.78 ~4,032,780 Religious 9 ~4?
GLC 1982 ~2.52 ~2,688,850 Religious 9 22
UBN 1993[19 ] Religious 5 ~7?
Almavision 2002 ~2.5% ~1,420,000 Spanish Religious 3 ~18?
Tvida Vision 2005 4% Spanish Religious 2 (KCWB-LP 13 / KVVG-LP 54)
Tele Vida Abundante 4% Spanish Religious 9
SafeTV 1995 4% Religious
Promiseland 4% Religious
NRB Network December 31, 2005 4% Religious
3ABN 1984 Religious 3 >16
3ABN Latino 2003 Spanish Religious 3
3ABN Radio Religious at Least 2 K08OU-D, K43JE-D
SonBeam Channel 2009 Religious 3
Radio 74 Religious at Least 2 K08OU-D, K43JE-D
TCT 1977 ~8% ~11,500,000 Religious 8 11
EWTN 1981 Religious 2 >5
GEB 1987 Religious 1
The Word Network 2000 ~2% ~3,210,000 Religious >3
La Familia Network 2002? ~2% ~3,210,000 Spanish Religious >3
Fe-TV[20] 2002? ~2% ~3,210,000 Religious >3
My Family TV Unknown ~2% Religious 1 3
Hope Channel October 10, 2003 ~2% ~3,210,000 Religious >3
Genesis Television Network 2005 Unknown Unknown Religious Unknown 2
The Inspiration Network[21] 1978 ~1% ~1,400,000 Religious 0 At least two (K08MA and K67HQ)
Television Network Founded  % of U.S. households reached # of households viewable Type of Television network # of Full-Power Affiliates # of Low-Power/Class-A Affiliates & Transmitters

English-language American commercial over-the-air television networks

  • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (originally formed from the NBC Blue Network of radio, which the FCC forced NBC to sell in 1943) The nation's third-largest commercial network, ABC has over 200 affiliate stations and airs original programming, sports, and news seven days a week. Almost all ABC stations air local newscasts.
  • CBS (originally Columbia Broadcasting System) The nation's second-largest commercial network, CBS has over 200 affiliate stations and airs original programming, sports, and news seven days a week. Almost all CBS stations air local newscasts.
  • NBC (originally National Broadcasting Company and formerly the television sister of the NBC Red Network from the broadcaster's radio days) The nation's largest commercial network, NBC has over 200 affiliate stations and airs original programming, sports, and news seven days a week. Almost all NBC stations air local newscasts.
  • Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox) The nation's fourth-largest commercial network, Fox has nearly 200 affiliate stations and airs original programming, sports, and news seven days a week, programming two hours each night in prime time (three hours on Sundays), along with the optional Saturday morning Weekend Marketplace informercial block. Almost all Fox stations air local newscasts. Several of the network's owned-and-operated stations formed the hub of the DuMont Network, which existed from the late 1940s to the mid 1950's.
  • The CW (originally formed from The WB and UPN networks, both of which folded in September 2006 after 11 years of existence). The nation's fifth-largest commercial network, The CW has approximately 100 affiliate stations in the top 100 television markets, and cable operations and digital subchannel operations in smaller television markets. The network airs original programming five nights a week from Monday-Friday, programming two hours each night in prime time, with a morning children's block (CW4Kids) on Saturdays. Some CW affiliates air local newscasts, usually only a primetime and/or a morning newscast, often cases produced by another station in the market.
  • MyNetworkTV is a start-up network project of News Corporation, which already owns Fox/FBC. Announced in part to fill the void that the merger of the WB and UPN will leave, particularly for Fox-owned stations which had been UPN affiliates in a number of large markets. The network launched with English-language telenovelas, but because of the failure of that strategy, currently the network features a mix of reality programming, concerts, entertainment news specials, second-run theatrical films, archived reality and comedy programming from the Fox network, and sports programming. The network programs six evenings a week from Monday-Saturday, two hours each night, all in prime time, with no children's programming. Some MyNetworkTV affiliates air local newscasts, usually only a primetime and/or a morning newscast, usually produced by another station in the market.
  • ION Television is a mid-sized network which has aired original family-oriented programming as well as repeats from other networks. The network has a 24 hour schedule airing seven days a week, with actual programming airing six hours each evening (all other time is taken up by paid and religious programming, or programmed by the local station). Affliates number around 100, although most of the stations are owned by ION. Formerly known as PAX TV from 1998-2005, and i: Independent Television from 2005-2007.
  • America One (a successor to Channel America) is a small network of over 160 affiliate stations, A1 airs general entertainment programming with a heavy emphasis on primetime sports programming and events including the Canadian Football League.
  • Omni Broadcasting Network (OBN) is a very small network composed of low-power TV stations in around 20 markets.

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 MTV2, Home Shopping Network, and ShopNBC.

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:

  • ABC: "Alphabet network" or "Circle network" (its name is also the first three letters of the alphabet)
  • CBS: "Tiffany network" or "Eye network" (for the network's high-toned reputation and eye logo, respectively)
  • Fox Broadcasting Company is referred to by media and by the network itself by the all-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 network's launch color scheme was (and is) dominated by the color green)
  • MyNetworkTV: "Fox mini-network" (like Fox, the network was formed by News Corporation).
  • PBS: "Head Network" for their educational programming, mascot, and logo
  • UPN defunct: "Used Parts Network" for its purchase of new episodes of series formerly seen on other networks, "Shapes network" or "Disc network" (after the network's 1995-2002 and 2002-2006 logos)
  • The WB defunct: "Frog network" (after the network's frog mascot)
  • DuMont Television Network defunct: "The Forgotten network" (due to its modern-day obscurity, considering it was a major network during the 1940s to 1950's)
    • Additionally, both The WB and UPN were also referred to as weblets by Variety because of their smaller and niche audiences.

Spanish-language American commercial over-the-air television networks

  • Univisión (UNI or UVN) is the nation's largest commercial Spanish-language network, Univision has over 120 affiliate stations including over 35 full-power stations many Univision owned-and-operated and airs original programming, as well as imported programming from Mexico and Venezuela seven days a week. Formed in 1986 following the sale of predecessor Spanish International Network (SIN) to Hallmark from Mexico's Televisa due to federal laws against foreign ownership of American television networks. Most Univision stations air local newscasts.
  • Telemundo (TMD, TELE, TEL, or less commonly TDO) is the nation's second-largest commercial Spanish-language network operated by NBC Universal, Telemundo has over 100 affiliate stations including 18 full-power stations and airs original programming seven days a week. In addition, Telemundo operates in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Most Telemundo stations air local newscasts.
  • Azteca América (AZT or AZA) is the nation's third-largest commercial Spanish-language network, Azteca America has nearly 90 affiliate stations including 8 full-power stations and airs original and imported programming seven days a week. Azteca America is an off-shoot of Mexico's TV Azteca, though much of the American network's programming airs at different times.
  • TeleFutura (TFT) is the smallest commercial Spanish-language network, owned by Univision, TeleFutura has nearly 30 affiliate stations including 13 full-power stations and airs original and imported programming seven days a week.

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.

Any one of the four Spanish-language broadcast networks airs on a national feed carried on cable and satellite systems. Univision is broadcast on more cable systems than the other commercial Spanish-language networks and therefore may be carried in more homes than the 15,000,000 listed. Also, there are Spanish-language independent stations, though these are mainly limited to large markets. Some affiliates of Azteca America carry non-network programming including some English-language programs.

The Spanish-language networks have a fewer amount of affiliates than "The Big Three" English-language networks NBC, ABC and CBS, PBS though they still occupy a large share of the country but with the growing Latino population, more affiliates are being added across the United States.

Unlike the English-language broadcast networks, Univision, Telemundo, Azteca America and Telefutura do not rely on their affiliate stations to program the majority of the broadcast day as the networks themselves program the day's programming. This does not mean these affiliates don't air local programming but the local programs are mainly limited to news with some entertainment programming though these programs do not take up a lot of the daily schedule.

American non-commercial television networks

Public/cultural/educational noncommercial

  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (the largest public broadcasting network, somewhat decentralized, in the U.S.) PBS also has 24-hour/7-day program feeds that some broadcast (both analog and digital) stations subscribe, for some or all of their dayparts: PBS Satellite Service (which has Eastern and Pacific Time feeds, and was originally conceived as a cable channel for areas not served by PBS stations), PBS YOU or "Your Own University" (devoted largely to adult education, crafts, and public-affairs programming, which ceased operations at the end of January 2006), PBS Kids Channel (devoted to PBS's very popular children's programming; discontinued in favor of a commercial-partnership service called PBS Kids Sprout on October 1, 2005 and briefly meant to be succeeded by a new service PBS Kids Go!, in October 2006), PBS DT2, PBS's HDTV feed of high-definition and letterboxed standard-definition programming, and PBS World, a cooperative effort at a news, public affairs, and documentary service between PBS, American Public Television, and other public-broadcasting entities and headquartered at PBS member station WGBH.
  • NYCTV The broadcasting service of the City of New York, offering original Emmy-award winning programming and available nationally on PBS stations. Not a network, but a provider of programming to several New York services beyond the home station, WNYE-TV).
  • The Annenberg Channel, formerly Annenberg/CPB Channel A National educational access channel for public broadcasters and schools it is available on some cable and satellite packages and is one of the only television channels in the U.S with an online stream programming that is offered to broadcast stations and cable systems for carriage; many of the broadcast affiliates play its programming in overnights. It shared some programming with PBS YOU and various university and college stations around the country.
  • Deutsche Welle (DW TV) A German noncommercial television service which provides some English-language news programming to public broadcasting stations, and whose programming feed can be seen on a small number of independent public-broadcasting stations for part of their broadcast day.
  • Create (sometimes given as Create!), a 24-7 digital-signal network run by syndicator American Public Television in partnership with WGBH, WNET, WLIW, NETA, and PBS, offering crafts and travel programming in part to fill the void left by the shuttering of PBS YOU. The network began transmission in January, 2006, primarily with a number of digital broadcast stations around the U.S.


Defunct American television networks

See also


  1. ^ Although PBS was initially established in 1969, it assumed full-time broadcasts on October 5, 1970 to replace its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET).
  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. ^ 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. ^ a b c d e Network founded by Lowell "Bud" Paxson
  6. ^ a b c Partially owned by NBC Universal and Citadel Investment Group
  7. ^ Date at which the Spanish International Network (founded in 1961) was reorganized and became Univision.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c d These channels are available over the air on digital channels or digital subchannels only.
  10. ^ MTV2 is owned by Viacom, who, before the 2006 split, also owned CBS and UPN. It is largely broadcast at night over low-power television stations, or Independent Stations. It was formerly known as The Box from the 1980s to 1996.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Jewelry Television has around 3 direct affiliates. Most other stations carrying its programming are indirectly affiliated with the network through Shop at Home.
  13. ^ a b Shop at Home only broadcasts programming overnights, and thus full affiliates of the network carry Jewelry Television during the day.
  14. ^ a b c d These networks are carried only on the digital subchannels of local TBN affiliates, and are owned by TBN.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Date at which WHTV acquired two additional stations. World Harvest Television is a product of LeSea Broadcasting.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Although Cornerstone Television was founded in 1970, the network did not begin even limited broadcasts until 1979.
  19. ^ Though the company was founded prior to 1993, the Unity Broadcasting Network operated just one O&O station and had no affiliates. In 1992, the company added 3 additional low-power stations and became a "network."
  20. ^ Fe-TV has temporarily suspended operations for 6 months as they upgrade their network and satellite uplink facilities. ([1])
  21. ^ The Inspiration Network (INSP) was formed in 1978 as "Praise The Lord" (PTL), and re-named in 1990


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address