A Review of Cozi TV

Cozi TV, NBCUniversal’s new classic television digital specialty network, officially launched last Tuesday (January 1st) but a “soft launch” featuring Christmas programming ran from December 20th-25th followed by a preview of regular programming from December 26th-31st. The network can be found the NBC Owned & Operated stations as well as a number of other stations, primarily those affiliated with NBC. Wikipedia lists 19 Cozi TV stations in a dozen states while the official Cozi TV website lists 22 (look for the drop down menu on the TV Listings page). There’s also an official Cozi TV Facebook page, Twitter feed and Google+ page, which hasn’t been updated in months.

According to its website, Cozi TV features the following classic television shows: Magnum, P.I., The Lone Ranger, The Roy Rogers Show, Charlie’s Angels, The Virginian, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Highway to Heaven, Marcus Welby, M.D., and Lassie. Other shows currently on the schedule include I Spy, Hopalong Cassidy, Alias Smith and Jones, Banacek, McMillan and Wife, McCloud, The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Stories of the Century and Tales of Wells Fargo. Aside from these classic programs, Cozi TV also features lifestyle programming carried over from NBC Nonstop format formerly seen on the NBC Owned & Operated stations and a pair of recent Canadian shows. There are two movies every weekday and four movies plus an educational block on weekends. Stations likely have the option to pre-empt certain Cozi TV programming for local shows.

I recorded several shows during the soft launch and a few more following the January 1st official launch. Note that I am viewing the station on WVIT (Connecticut’s NBC affiliate) over-the-air on a standard definition 4:3 television set. The first thing I noticed was the aspect ratio. There are black bars on all four sides rather than the more familiar top and bottom bars (“letterbox”) or right and left bars (“pillarbox”). Bars on all four sides is called “postage stamp” or “windowbox” and is the result of 4:3 SD content being up-converted for 16:9 HD widescreen use and then downconverted when viewed on a 4:3 SD set. You can read more about formats and aspect ratios in this paper prepared for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Here are some screen shots showing the “postage stamp” format:

Example of Postage Stamp Format

Example of Postage Stamp Format

Example of Postage Stamp Format
Examples of Postage Stamp Format

Some viewers might find this distracting or even unwatchable. Check to see if your television set or DVR allows you to change the aspect ratio or to zoom in on the image. While not ideal, these are some options to make watching Cozi TV more palatable. Ideally, Cozi TV would implement Active Format Description (AFD), as described in the NAB paper linked to earlier, to deal with the issue.

All of the lifestyle/NBC Nonstop programming is 16:9 widescreen, as are the few movies I have checked and all NBC promotional spots aired during commercial breaks. Most of the commercials are “postage stamp” but, interestingly, promotional spots for Cozi TV are 16:9 HD widescreen even though the source material is 4:3 SD. Here are some examples:

Example of Cozi TV Widescreen Promotional Spot

Example of Cozi TV Widescreen Promotional Spot
Examples of Cozi TV Widescreen Promotional Spots

Aside from the aspect ratio, what stands out most while watching Cozi TV are the various on screen graphics. A fairly large, white network logo or “bug” is present on the lower right of the screen during all programming. Unlike many other network logos, the Cozi TV logo is not very transparent. There is also a rating icon in the upper left at the start of every program and right after most (or all) commercial breaks. Any programs that feature closed captions have a third graphic in the upper right hand corner. Finally, there is a network identification shown every hour (or every half-hour, I’m not quite sure). The rating and closed caption graphics stay on screen for about 20 seconds. Here are some examples of how cluttered the screen can get:

Example of Cozi TV On Screen Graphics

Example of Cozi TV On Screen Graphics

Example of Cozi TV On Screen Graphics

Example of Cozi TV On Screen Graphics
Examples of Cozi TV On Screen Graphics

To be fair, most of these graphics are likely required by the FCC. Whether they have to be as big as they are is another question. What is far more egregious than the clutter is the fact that Cozi TV is airing cut episodes in order to fit in more commercials. I timed three half-hour episodes (The Ruggles, Four Star Playhouse and Date with the Angels) broadcast during the Christmas “soft launch” and all clocked in at 24:58. The fact that they’re all exactly the same length suggestions they had to be edited to some degree but at close to 25 minutes they’re probably not missing much.

I then timed three more half-hour episodes (Tales of Wells Fargo, Lassie and Stories of the Century) broadcast after the January 1st official launch. All ran 21:53 which means they’re heavily cut. I timed one episode of The Bold Ones: The Lawyers and it ran 44:57 so it was also cut for time. That’s too bad.

Aside from the shows aired during the Christmas soft launch, which were obviously sourced from fairly beaten up prints and exhibited lots of scratches and other defects, the quality of the shows I watched or checked was pretty good. Be aware that individual stations can decide how much bandwidth they want to devote to Cozi TV. Not enough bandwidth means a low-quality signal and compression artifacts.

I doubt I will be watching much Cozi TV in the future. Not because of the aspect ratio, which doesn’t really bother me, or the clutter due to on screen graphics, or even because the episodes are cut for time. No, the reason I don’t plan on watching Cozi TV has to do with the programming. I admit to being excited when the “soft launch” schedule included episodes of The Ruggles, Meet Corliss Archer and Date with the Angels, which are fairly obscure, but the regular schedule is filled with well-established classic shows that are for the most part readily available on DVD, streaming online or on other networks/cable channels. I can only hope that more obscure fare will find its way back into the schedule in the coming months. For those viewers who enjoy the shows currently on the schedule, tune in and enjoy.

If you get Cozi TV and have any thoughts, hit the comments. I’m interested to hear what others think.


44 Comments

  • angel yu says:

    Regarding the postage stamp aspect ratio. Although, irritating, is actually tolerable. What I actually find more of a reason for not tuning in is, not even sure what the term is, the fact that a lot of the shows look like it’s being pushed to the right side of the screen to the point that they’re missing parts of the picture on the left side of the screen. It feels like when the shows were shot that the camera was panned too much to the left.

  • ellen says:

    I’ve noticed huge errors in the programming list. Movies that are scheduled turn out not to be the movies shown (4x in the last week — first, twice with Midnight Lace that ended up being Little Miss Marker; and then again for another pair of films.) Additionally, they’ve repeated so many episodes of Lassie… and also, wrong summaries of the show.

    Finally — I dvr’d a movie last night — (by programming it, not manually); and the movie cut off after 2 hours (movie had not yet ended) and the dvr of course, stopped at the time the movie was theoretically scheduled to end.

    Cozi has a great idea. Now, they have to promote J. Fred Muggs and get some decent staff there to do their job.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Considering this rose from the ashes of what had been NBC’s “New York Nonstop” channel {are you still out there, Joey Reynolds????}, the way they put this channel together in so short a period was nothing short of a miracle! HOWEVER, if you watch the channel without a “hi-def” signal, as I’ve tried to do, everything on screen is “squished” together, like puckered lips….or a wide-screen movie before the lens is in place.

  • Margie says:

    I’m on Long Island, NY, cable provider Cablevision, and cannot find COZI anywhere. Is anyone from this area that could help. Thanks.

    • RGJ says:

      Margie, you can enter your zip code at the Cozi TV website to see if it is in your area.

    • Debbie says:

      I loved the show the real McCoys and woke up in the early morning just to watch. You do have some good shows on but you play some of the shows too many times in a day

      • Debbie says:

        Instead of the Lucy show please put back on the real McCoys, Lucy is on me.tv and that’s why I watched cozi. Tv I got tired of some of the shows, now your putting the same shows on your station. Like emergency, they took it off their channel so now you put it on yours, I would rather see some of the shows you discontinued

  • Bob says:

    While I like much of Cozi’s programming I do not like being stuck with their 4:3 aspect ration on my widescreen. It’s especially galling because they show the clips in the promos in the widescreen format. Meaning they are electing to use 4:3. So, I am electing to watch their shows via my Roku box, where I can get the same shows in widescreen at 480p or better.

    • Drew says:

      Just curious how you’re watching these shows on your Roku? We recently ditched cable TV and Cozi is the only channel I really miss. Thanks.

  • Michael Alden says:

    I can’t watch this channel. Butchered episodes and screwed up aspect ratio. And the only show worth a damn is The Bold Ones.

  • DuMont says:

    What I particulary enjoy about COZI are their cheeky little promos for their shows…’The Bionic Woman’ ad with her ripping the phonebook to intimidate her students was funny, as was a spot I saw for ‘Banacek’.

    While visiting New York recently, I found myself watching COZI and ME-tv more than Antenna, mostly because they seemed to have fresher vintage programming.

  • zoe fahkgori says:

    Thanyou Cozi for reminding me of eventful televison. It as if i traveled threw time, reminding me of the purity and unique tv,thanks abunch hats off to NBC ,cozi love EZF

  • Phil says:

    This Comcast cable customer turned on ‘The Virginian’ at Cozi-TV this AM. After measuring the picture image with a tape measure for the five settings available on my flat screen TV, I confirmed that the 16:9 setting is the correct one for watching this 4:3 program. It’s perfectly logical…NOT!!!!

    BTW, my “dumb” 13” CRT TV in the bedroom showed the program with a 4:3 ratio, although the image has about an inch of black space missing on all sides of the screen.

    As for the schedule, I never saw ‘The Bold Ones’ before, so that looks like an interesting option for Friday nights. In the future, I hope Cozi-TV digs up a few buried items from Universal’s vault (Hec Ramsey, Name of the Game, Chrysler Theatre, etc.).

    • steve says:

      I happened to catch LASSIE on cozi TV — I remember from a kid in the 60’s, and i still love this show!
      I could watch LASSIE all day long – its pure, simple, American TV at it’s best. also, enjoyed THE VIRGINIAN — teriffic quality show from the the 60’s. Yes these are avail on DVD, but why pay for dvds that will just lay around un-used. I enjoy flipping channels and there’s a show I love. I want these shows here!! Enjoy your site & thanks!!

  • Dan says:

    I basically only tune in for Charlie’s Angels and Bionic Woman. I love the fact that these shows are aired between 8pm-11pm, it feels like when they were first run in their Prime Time spots. Brings back great childhood memories. Great channel and I know they are at the mercy of the advertisers, but it would be nice to not see that stupid DirectTV commercial and the Chuck Woolery catheter commericial at EVERY commericial break!!!

  • Chante says:

    I absolutely love it the channel. Advertising is their bread and butter…I’ll deal with it as long as I can see “The Name of the Game”, “The Bold Ones”, “Lassie”, and “The Virginian”, just to name a few. I tape most of the shows and do some fast forwarding thru the commercials to enjoy the show..Imagine watching “The Name of the Game” with the commercials–too long but 65-70 minutes, I can do that.

    Now, some of you remember the bumper(three parts of the show’s logo are brought to the center of the screen with a few seconds instrumental that varies depending on the scene that shown before the commercials on “Charlie’s Angels'”–that has been cut and I don’t care for that to be cut because that’s part of the show, IMO of course. That’s like “Hawaii Five-O”(the original) when they cut the bumper before the commercials to make room for commercials but I just take the bitter with the sweet and enjoy the classics.

  • Don says:

    What a farce! We tuned in for the first time. It was a movie called “Perfect” with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. It was supposed to end at 11:30 pm. However, we never got to see the end of the movie. At 11:00 the programming changed to a 1/2 hr commercial for a make up product called Sheer Cover. We won’t be watching this channel again.

  • Steven Kopp says:

    In the last few weeks, Cozi TV, is blocking the recording of the channel “over the airwaves” using a DVD recorder (+VR). I had my brother check and he can record using a DVR on cable. I wonder if this is an attempt to make people have to get cable?
    On the last show of “House” on Fox, when I recorded it, there was sound but no picture? When I flipped thru during the show, using my TV tuner, there was a picture.

  • sandra gaudiosi says:

    I have been dissatisfied with cozi tv. I love cash cab but your programming schedule is faulty. It is suppose to air on sundays 5-7:00 Pm but for the past two months there is no cash cab, instead you have Meet the Press, and some other shows. what are you going to do about this. I subscribe to cablevision and have made many inquiries to them, the reply to contact you. can you remedy this. thank you.

  • Jason says:

    The two big mistakes with COZI is the way they broadcast their shows. The compressed format is ghastly! And, for the fact that the classic shows on COZI are butchered episodes to accommodate more ad time. Sorry, but that isn’t my cup of tea by a long shot by seeing these classic shows all cut up for more commercials. I’d sure love to see the original Lassie series (the Tommy Rettig era) with its original titles and run uncut and unedited.

    • Sue says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was watching Ironside last night and a scene was cut and also part of a scene. Not fair to their viewers.

  • Chante says:

    I also noticed that a few of the shows closing credits are cut off to make room for the commercials…”The Real McCoys”, “Maverick”, “The Avengers” and
    “The Adventures of Jim Bowie”..Not liking the closing credits cut off..I”m very disappointed..Now, the only program I watch on Cozi-Tv is
    “The Lone Ranger”.

  • Greg says:

    Besides the cutting of the full, famous opening, as far as I can tell all of the episodes of The Lone Ranger are complete. I have watched 20 or more episodes, maybe 30, and I have 15 hours recorded (30 episodes). I don’t care what COZI’s faults are – I’m watching The Lone Ranger again and I’m delghted!

  • Greg says:

    Chante is correct – happy to see I am not alone!

  • Donna says:

    Does it bother anyone that the audio is out of sync with the picture? I find it very annoying.

    • Nancy says:

      Yes, the audio/video syncing STINKS! And it’s really choppy, doesn’t stream smoothly. Please fix and I would watch more!!!

  • janie childs says:

    sad lassie will not return this fall, 4.3 i did not vote i did grow up with lassie. to heck with nbc. thank-you

  • mike pletcher says:

    I would enjoy cozi if I could receive the air broadcast signal here in denver. I enjoy the classc shows they offer

  • Jeff Epstein says:

    I like COZI’s video quality. Even if they do switch switch back-n-forth on 16:9 and 4:3, the quality is still way better than the old days with multipath ghosting and the frame vertical/horizontal rolling. But yes, pixelation interference is more annoying than the old analog static interference. And I too like the old LoneRanger and Maverick shows. They’re alot better than the violence on Law-n-Order, CSI xyz City, and Vampire Diaries.

  • Mark says:

    I can’t begin to express my disdain for the ridiculous image formating that Cozi uses, the butchered episodes of classic media, cutting the end credits… why? And then there’s the saturation of commercials, commercials and more commercials. It’s pathetic that my pricey cable bill “affords” me a bevy of foolish commercials that’s growing in frequency thus chopping out more program time. Is there any reason why so many people are abandoning their cable and satellite services? Classic TV shows don’t deserve the mistreatment that most networks are inflicting on these priceless shows. The internet is the way to go for the real deal.

  • Jim says:

    I just started getting this channel a few months ago & I thought I saw an episode of “make Room for Daddy” in Full screen, but everything else was postage stamp size.

  • Joann Foss says:

    I was visiting my mother at her home. She is 81 years old. She got rid of Satelite because the only channel she watched were Westerns. After a while all they showed on satelite were the same Westerns over and over. She got a digital box instead and was able to get Me TV. She loves it. Then one day she found COZI TV on her digital box. She was sooooooooo excited to see shows from the 50’s through the 80’s. For two days she was estatic at seeing shows like The Lone Ranger, The Lucy Show, movies, Lassie, etc. I had not seen my mom so happy in a long time. It was like discovering the past all over again. It made her remember when we kids were growing up during the 50’s and 60’s. But then two days later, she couldn’t get COZI TV anymore. It just disappeared. She was sooooo distraught. I tried to find it for her again but couldn’t. Anybody know how we can get this station back????? Her zip code is 81521. Help!!!!

  • Pat G says:

    I would love to get COZI but like thousands of other people I hate cable and sat systems. I use ROKU where I don.t have to pay for dozens of unwanted trash. I can choose my programming at fairly low cost.

  • Pete S says:

    I get Cozi here in Western Massachusetts -but – I don’t know if they are skimping on bandwidth – the sound is so gurgly and flangy – it might be from time-compression – or just low quality upload rate – it sounds like you are listening to the shows underwater!

  • Jason says:

    l agree – the sound quality is terrible. I was so excited about getting Cozi but won’t watch with such sub-par audio.

  • Bernadine Pellicier says:

    I’m in Western Massachusetts, too. I HATE COZI AUDIO! Love the shows but I can’t watch them due to the irritating garbled audio that echoes. I’ve watch this on 3 different TV sets 2 digital and 1 old analog tv – it’s the same horrible audio. I’ve checked in from time-to-time, hoping that this problem has been corrected. Nope.
    So I’m done with Cozi TV.

  • Jan Combs says:

    Lassie should be brought back to coding TV it is a good wholesome show and family oriented. No matter what the educational system says Lassie shows kindness protection and love. The show should be brought back in Kansas City in a time slot that would not be a problem with the paid programming. Kansas City could put Lassie on. instead of so many Frazier’s

  • lenore urbanski says:

    I ditched cable and am so happy with Cozi TV. They have so many great reruns on like Little House on the Prarie, Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver. I hope one day they will add in the Waltons. I don’t miss cable at all and am saving g myself $100 a month.

  • Christine Yorm says:

    :( you took of my Hart to Hart please bring back ! Love Frazer it’s on to long And you have Murder she Wrote Fri,sat, Sunday yuck ! You don’t have Colombo on enough , Ariel’s singer you can only take so much of that . Otherwise cozy TV is just Great .

  • Thomas Johnstone says:

    The Older the Better……Lovin the Real McCoys…..Got the wife watchin ity too…

  • Bill Reynolds says:

    Cozi audio has all the charm of a bad Magic Jack phone call. And, unfortunately, much of their programming is determined by focus groups composed of nursing home residents. Murder She Wrote, etc.

  • lee says:

    where is Miami Vice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????

  • Wanda owen says:

    Quit butchering episodes while they are still talking with a commercial leaving us baffled what they said when the episode returns I think we will quit cable because of this!!! What’s more important commercials interrupting the show or money in the pockets of cable!!! Cable cannot have their cake& eat it too this is why cable will lose money people are getting hip

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