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Broadcasters Boost Digital Offerings By 80%

According to a new report from SNL Kagan, the number of digital TV offerings – HD channels, multicast channels and mobile DTV channels – increased by over 80% offerings in 2011 over 2010.

TV groups leading the way in multiple offerings are Ion and Sinclair, not surprising since they are also the groups with more stations than any others.

Kagan said there are now 4,552 over-the-air broadcast channels being delivered by 1,726 full-power digital stations, up 2,034 from 2,518 at the end of 2010.

Contributing to that boost, said Kagan, were new multicast networks like Bounce TV, Live Well, Antenna TV and others, which expanded their reach by more than 600 stations.

According to the report, Spanish-language multicast channels have nearly doubled to 216, with an additional 10 live, mobile DTV channels.

Also contributing to the rise in channels has been the multiplexing of two HD channels, including by the ABC O&O's, which are doubling up primary channels with Live Well's HD offering.

According to Kagan, the broadcast group with the most digital offerings is Ion, whose 60 TV stations offer up 211 digital and mobile channels. Coming in at number two is Sinclair, whose 59 stations offer up 160 channels. Sinclair was an early, and sometimes lonely, proponent of the kind of DTV mobility that broadcasters are now trumpeting as one of the keys to their future.

Rounding out the top five are Raycom (40 stations/107 channels), Gray Television (34 stations/97 channels), and NBC TV Stations (24/75 channels).

The Kagan report provides broadcasters with ammunition in their argument that over-the-air TV is a growing business that needs its own spectrum oxygen to breathe. Broadcasters are currently working to keep interference and coverage area protections in the spectrum incentive auction legislation being considered in Congress.