Nexstar Media said it plans to launch Rewind TV, a new digital subchannel airing classic sitcoms from the 1980s and 1990s, on Sept. 1.
With cord-cutting more viewers are turning not just to streaming, but to over the air digital multicast channels, and broadcasters are launching channels featuring vintage series to take advantage of the demand.
Rewind TV will reach 50 million homes at launch, or about 40% of U.S. television households, Nexstar said. It will be carried on digital subchannels by TV stations, including outlets in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The new network will feature shows from the 1980s and 1990s, including The Drew Carey Show, Murphy Brown, The Facts of Life, Growing Pains, Wings, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Who’s the Boss and Family Ties.
Nexstar already owns one of the oldest digital broadcast networks with Antenna TV, originally started by Tribune Broadcasting, which Nexstar acquired. Antenna TV will focus on programming from the 1960s and 1970s, including reruns of Johnny Carson on weeknights.
“This year marks Antenna TV’s 10-year anniversary, and it continues growing and finding new audiences,” said Sean Compton, president of Nexstar Media Inc.’s Networks Division. “To complement Antenna TV’s strong following with Baby Boomers, we created Rewind TV to give Gen X viewers a network dedicated to their own nostalgic comedy classics.”
Nexstar is not the only company launching digital channels, which are becoming a substantial business.
Earlier this month, Tegna launched Twist, a digital multicast channel aimed at women with unscripted lifestyle shows including Dance Moms, Tabatha Takes Over and Flipped Out. Twist was initially available in 43 markets.
E.W. Scripps plans to launch two new multicast networks on July 1, One is Defy, with unscripted programming aimed at men with the slogan “Here’s to the Mavericks.” . The other is TrueReal, featuring reality shows, mainly off-cable from A+E Networks, aimed at women 25 to 54. TrueReal was originally called Doozy, but it was quickly rebranded.
In 2017, Scripps bought Katz Networks for $302 million, Katz operated Bounce, Escape, Grit and Laff channels featuring vintage shows targeting viewers based on genres and demographics. It has since launched additional channels including Court TV.
The Katz Networks had profits of $62.5 million, up 45% in 2020, on revenue of $257.5 million, up 13.4%.
The Katz Networks are now part of Scripps National Networks unit along with Ion Media.
Some of the stations that had carried Katz networks will be carrying Nexstar’s new Rewind TV. Scripps is moving its channels to Ion stations it now owns, reducing the distribution fees it pays.
In October, Scripps plans to launch Newsy, its streaming news channel, as a free over-the-air network as well on Oct.1.
Weigel Broadcasting Co. is another player in the multicast business with one of the oldest and highest rated networks, MeTV. It also operates Movies! Network in cooperation with Fox Television Stations, and Decades, H&I and Start TV in association with CBS Television Stations.
In addition to owning 198 TV stations in its broadcasting division, Nexstar’s networks division operates Antenna TV, the NewsNation cable TV network (formerly WGN America) and WGN Radio in Chicago.
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