"Classic TV" Just Another Starting Point For TV Platform Wannabes

Starting a new TV platform or technology? You need "classic" TV -- otherwise just known as 'old' (maybe boring) TV for the rest of us.


Yet another "classic" TV network is starting up. This one from Tribune Broadcasting is called Antenna TV, a network based on the carriage from the local TV digital TV signals that TV stations currently own  -- but don't know what to do with.

This 'digi-net' will air "Three's Company," "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son," "Benny Hill," "Maude," "The Nanny," "Married with Children," "Too Close for Comfort," "The Partridge Family," "Dennis the Menace," "The Donna Reed Show" and "The Three Stooges."

Haven't we seen this business story before? 



It happened around 40 years ago in the then-new TV syndication business. Then, around 30 years ago with nascent cable television networks (TV Land, and early TBS and USA Network). More recently, Internet TV businesses, such as AOL and Warner Bros.', have been looking at the oldies.

Now, local digital TV stations get a shot. Why? Programming is cheap for the TV distributor, and program license deals for TV stations groups are also inexpensive -- if not virtually free. Antenna TV is an all-barter network. It keeps half the inventory, hopefully for national TV advertisers; TV stations get the other half to sell locally.

The aim hasn't change with using old TV shows. Start small, grab an audience and revenue and move up TV's entropy line with newer "classics" and then perhaps, an original show.

Much of this comes down to old TV libraries sitting around collecting dust -- and TV studio executives looking to squeeze out a buck.  On the other side, you have stations with empty store shelves.

But how many times you can play this trick to consumers. How many times can viewers go through the same door? And where is the growth from all the recycling?

Are new audiences discovering all these shows? Forgive me. I don't see the 18-34 demographic watching much "Dennis The Menace." I'm not too sure 50 plus or 65 plus demos will be desperate for "The Partridge Family," either.

Of course, Antenna TV isn't even the first in new local digital TV business. Networks such as Retro Television Network, This TV and others have already started.

Marketing chores here seem to be a bigger hurdle. Taglines, such as "Watch all your classic TV shows!" with retro art work doesn't work. Better have TV shows surrounded by cobwebs, funerals, dead-looking characters and lots of black-and-white images.

Call it Goth and get all the kids.

2 comments about " "Classic TV" Just Another Starting Point For TV Platform Wannabes ".
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  1. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System, September 1, 2010 at 11:18 a.m.

    Wayne, lots of good points.....except when these entities lure the classic TV fans (and they still do exist) and then turn their networks into something else, they then not just tick off but totally alienate that initial core audience.

    This is not unlike the changes NBC Universal has made to The Weather Channel. You now have to have a microscope to obtain weather information from TWC. Mornings have turned into MSNBC Lite. Al Roker is fine but has he really brought significantly more viewers to TWC? And how many people do you have left on The Weather Channel with white hair?

    If you brand yourself as a certain network, either support the brand and stick with it.....but don't turn it into something else. To be candid: TV Land is not TV Land any more.

  2. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, September 1, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.

    You said it Steve! So many Channels out there, including the aforementioned TV Land, have strayed from their initial formats in pursuit of the almighty Dollar, and in doing so ALIENATED their initial audiences. I'm one of those fans of "Classic TV" and have been able to secure copies of most of the TV Shows I grew up with in the 1960s and 70s on DVD. IMO Today's shows simply do not hold a Candle to these older shows. CBS is reviving one of their old Classics, but without Jack Lord and the original Production Team, I feel it simply won't be anywhere near as great as the original Series was. For one thing, each episode will be shorter, in order to make room for what will probably be 16-20 Minutes of Commercials during an Episode. Five will get you ten there will be some kind of Political Issue inserted in an episode. (Example: Woman is found dead on Beach. She was a Nurse that worked at a Honolulu Clinic. Clinic is being Picketed by a Christian Group because they did Abortions. Guess who the Murderer was?) Many of the "Classics" stayed away from Controversial Subjects, those that did often didn't last long. At 7:00 Each Evening I dont need a show that deals with Social or Political Issues. I deal enough with that during the day. I'd rather spend my evenings away from the "Real World" and lose myself in Good, Old-Fashioned Entertainment.

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