Nexstar Broadcasting Group has confirmed that WTVW-TV Evansville, IN will go forward without a network affiliation, following its split with Fox. Effective this Friday, July 1st, the station will rebrand as “Local 7” as Fox moves to a digital channel of WEVV-TV.
“Launching Local 7 reflects WTVW’s deep commitment to the community and focus on addressing the interests of our multiple viewing audiences in the Tri-State area with more locally-produced programming than they can get anywhere else. Local 7 will build upon its highly successful news product as we are immediately increasing the amount of local news content and are developing other exclusive, locally originated programming. Our market leading news content will be complemented by a range of hit prime time shows, blockbuster movies and other high quality entertainment programming — just as we have for the past 55 years. With its focus on local programming, Local 7 – WTVW is creating a new compelling programming option for viewers and an excellent platform for advertisers,” said the announcement from VP/GM Michael Smith.
As it goes independent, WTVW is expanding its local news and adding syndicated programming in place of the two hours of weekday primetime programming where it previously had the Fox Network.
Here is the station’s description of its programming changes:
LOCAL 7’s top-rated, hour-long daily primetime newscast will continue to air at 9:00 p.m., seven days a week as will the daily full hour of local weekday news from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. To keep viewers better informed on weekends, beginning on July 9, Saturday’s 6:00 p.m. local newscasts will expand to a full hour and WTVW is adding a full hour local newscast on Sundays at 6:00 p.m. beginning on July 10. As a result, WTVW viewers will now have a full hour of local news seven days a week at both 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Tri-State viewers will continue to start their day with AM Evansville airing from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. weekdays and stay informed throughout the day with WTVW’s mid-day news at noon.
July will also mark the debut of LOCAL 7’s exciting new weekday primetime line-up beginning with Inside Edition at 7:00 p.m. followed by The Insider at 7:30 p.m. Viewers can tune in Monday through Fridays at 8:00 p.m. for the Emmy Award winning crime-solving drama Law and Order SVU. Airing every Saturday night beginning at 7:00 p.m. LOCAL 7’s Family Western Night will travel back to the old west with the vintage favorites Bonanza, Gun Smoke and Rawhide. Later in the weekend, LOCAL 7 will present Sunday Family Movie Night with marquee titles such as A River Runs Through It with Brad Pitt, In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood, Under Suspicion with Gene Hackman and Nadine starring Kim Bassinger.
Michael Smith added “WTVW’s daily primetime schedule leads with terrific newsmagazine programming and the latest celebrity, pop culture, and entertainment insights while our new Saturday and Sunday news programming will make it easy on the weekends to stay informed of the day’s latest developments, sports and weather. In addition, our new primetime weekend programming is a great opportunity to bring families back together for family night viewing only on LOCAL 7.”
Coming this fall, LOCAL 7 will expand its local programming platform even further with original weekly local sports and a fourth hour added to AM Evansville morning news, providing additional lifestyle, community and current events news. In addition, the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory is being added to the programming schedule on September 19 and will air weekdays from 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Smith noted, “With the expansion of WTVW’s existing news product, LOCAL 7 will produce thirty-six and a half hours of news per week this fall. Viewers can also expect to see college and high school games of the week, weekly programs dedicated to the hometowns we serve and a program that puts the academic skills of Tri-State students to the test. All-in, LOCAL 7 will provide an unparalleled viewing and marketing opportunity for the Tri-State community.
“Our initiatives extend to our loyal advertisers as well, as we are providing more local marketing opportunities than ever before to complement our highly successful tristatehomepage.com and Tristate on The Go web and mobile platforms. The moniker LOCAL 7 clearly reflects our commitment to quality programming and advertising solutions, and underscores our promise to our community to address the evolving dynamics of local viewer interests and delivering a results-driven platform for advertisers.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Long the only commercial VHF in an otherwise UHF market, WTVW has a long-established brand identified with the Channel 7 slot, although it now actually broadcasts in digital on Channel 28. That strong brand identification doesn’t diminish the challenge it faces operating as an independent in DMA #103.