MGM Worldwide Television has signed a long-term affiliation agreement for THIS TV, a 24/7 free programming network for digital broadcasters, with Tribune Broadcasting, securing renewals on existing stations and achieving new clearances in key markets.
THIS TV will pick up Tribune stations as new affiliates: WPIX (New York, NY), WSFL (Miami, FL), KPLR (St. Louis, MO), KSWB (San Diego, CA), and WXMI (Grand Rapids, MI). Existing Tribune affiliates include: KTLA (Los Angeles, CA), WPHL (Philadelphia, PA), WDCW (Washington, D.C.), KWGN (Denver, CO), WTTV/WTIC (Indianapolis/Bloomington/Kokomo, IN), WTIC (Hartford/New Haven/Waterbury, CT) and WNOL (New Orleans, LA).
MGM and Tribune have also formed a strategic partnership designed to continue to grow the digital network, which is now carried by stations reaching over 85% of the country. MGM also announced it has reached an agreement with The Nielsen Company, which will provide national ratings.
THIS TV, which was created and is operated jointly by MGM and Weigel Broadcasting, was launched in November of 2008.
In making the announcement, Jim Packer, Co-President, MGM Worldwide Television, stated: “We have strengthened the THIS TV national platform with our new affiliation agreement and strategic partnership with Tribune. THIS TV is already by far the leader in the digital network space, and this will further cement us as the prime leader in the digital spectrum. THIS TV’s free programming service provides a meaningful, affordable and therefore competitive option for viewers who otherwise would have to rely on paid services to gain access to the diverse, 24/7 programming available through THIS TV.”
Sean Compton, President of Programming for Tribune Broadcasting, said: “MGM has successfully built THIS TV into a valuable programming network for local stations in this digital age. THIS TV is now the only movie channel for homes without cable and the viewer response has been overwhelming. The existing ratings for the network prove that there are a lot of digital growth opportunities, and we are pleased to capitalize on them with THIS TV.”
Currently, THIS TV is available in approximately 40 million cable homes nationwide as well as its over the air signal. MGM’s library has over 4,100 films and 10,000 hours of television programs. In regards to localism, THIS TV allows stations to preempt for local news, sports, weather, public affairs and community events. WMC, the affiliate in Memphis, for example, aired local college and high school football games as part of its localized version of THIS TV, while KLTV in Tyler, Texas, aired the Texas Gubernatorial Debate and KSLA in Shreveport offered “High School Football Saturdays in the South.”
The drawing power was recently confirmed on 3/20, when Clint Eastwood’s “Hang ‘em High” attracted 481,000 households with 597,000 viewers. The movie beat out the competition, outperforming such networks as We-TV, VH1, CMT, G4 and The Travel Channel.