Monday, April 20, 2009

Use of Digital Feeds

As I mentioned in the previous post--WPVI channel 6 chose not to air live "traditional" coverage of the Harry Kalas memorial service this past Saturday which was held at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. I commented that, even though they aired streaming video online at makes me wonder why they didn't also air coverage on WPVI-2, one of their digital feeds?
Currently, WPVI has two additional channels in this digital age. WPVI DT2 and WPVI DT3. DT2 airs *repeat shows* such as "FYI Philly", "New Visions", "Perspective: Delaware" and alot of paid programming. DT3, better known as "Action News Now" is a 24/7 broadcast of local and national weather (provided by AccuWeather) along with news headlines.
Over at WCAU's NBC-10, there are also two additional digital channels. WCAU DT2 is "NBC Plus" (the former WeatherPlus) much like WPVI's 24/7 local/national weather. WCAU DT3 is "NBC Sports" provided by NBC.
KYW-3 and FOX-29 do not currently air digital feed signals. WPSG-TV "CW Philly 57" airs THREE additional digital feeds. There is children's programming Qubo; lifestyle type programming on ION Life and the power of faith on Worship.
A look at how some other markets have become creative in the programming of their digital feeds? CW affilate WTVX-34 in the Miami area airs three digital feeds one of which is "Retro TV Network" with oldies shows such as "Ironside", "Marcus Welby M.D.", "Emergency", "Kojak", "Adam-12", "Dragnet" and "The Incredible Hulk" to name a few.
New York's NBC affiliate, WNBC-4, began programming "New York Nonstop"--a 24 hour local news network similiar to CNN but with lighter fare and more repeated news cycles while Houston CBS affiliate KBTX airs "The Martha Stewart Show", "Family Feud", "Trivial Pursuit" and other syndicated fare on its DT2 feed.
ABC affiliate, WNEP-16 out of the Scranton-Wilkes/Barre market is probably the boldest and most creative I've heard about. They recently began airing a continuation of their weekday early morning "NewsWatch 16 This Morning" in the 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. timeslot after saying goodbye on their main channel and signing off to ABC's "Good Morning America". Station management felt it was just a logical move in providing news, weather and information to those looking for "local" versus the national network fare.
Other networks such as Retro TV are out there attempting to grab this additional "tree fruit" that has blossomed in the digital TV age. I would love to see stations continue to reach out to the viewer and utilize their digital feeds in this type of *interesting programming* as well as breaking news events. Live coverage of a story could be provided and promoted on the digital feed while still airing network fare on the main channel. Imagine Channel 6 airing a show in the 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. slot to compete with FOX-29's "Good Day Philadelphia"? It wouldn' take much on Matt O'Donnell and Tamala Henry's part to give "Good Day" a run for their money with "Action News Later Morning"! How about KYW-3 airing "Eyewitness News at 5 p.m." once they begin digital streaming -- against their own "Dr. Phil"?
Obviously, economics is probably the biggest obstacle in all of this and time will tell what direction this type of programming goes.


Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. I too would like to see stations do this and use their access for more programming! WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF PVI CONTINUED THEIR EARLY NEWS PAST 7?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that this is technology is in its infancy and hope stations take advantage! Here in Chicago (I'm a Philly transplant) the CBS station WSBT TV has their "2" channel and air programs like Matlock, Cops, Hawaii Five-O, Access Hollywood and Frazer. Thanks for the post.

Jefferson said...

WPSG "CW Philly 57" does not have any digital sub-channel. It is CBS O&O and appears at present, all CBS O&O are mandated not to have any digital sub-channel for fear of potential signal degradation until the switchover is placed into full effect. The digital subchannels you mentioned belong to the ION/PAX affiliate, WPPX 61, insterad.

WPHL 17 does have "This TV" on their 17.2 subchannel which appears to be a full day's schedule of B-grade and retro movies from mainly the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

But I agree, the potential for alternative programming on the subchannels is greatly underwhelming at present. I will admit, though, WPVI's 6.2 is now broadcasting in 16:9 720p format now and airing some interesting lifestyle/health programming bits geared for the older adults every now and again. I think the various repeats of home-brewed programming and such are starting to get phased out. I also noticed there's no standard-def simulcast of Action News on 6.2 anymore.