The CBS Television Stations group and Weigel Broadcasting have announced plans to launch a new classic television digital specialty network — or diginet — called Decades during the second quarter of 2015. It will air on the 16 CBS owned-and-operated stations as well as any other stations that Weigel can sign affiliation agreements with. It will likely also be available via cable and satellite. According to an official press release published by the futon critic, Decades will feature more than 100 series, including classics like I Love Lucy, Star Trek, Happy Days, and Cheers, as well as feature films and made-for-TV movies.
Additionally, Decades will also feature content from the CBS News and Entertainment Tonight libraries. Unlike similar diginets like Me-TV and Antenna TV, Decades will air different shows and movies every day. From the press release:
DECADES will take viewers into a daily time capsule presentation of entertainment, popular culture and news. The service will feature DECADES RETROSPECTICALSM, a daily one-hour program that will be produced around the news events and cultural touchstones of a specific day, week or other time frame or theme. The TV series and movies presented each day will reflect that day’s theme or commemorative event.
For example, DECADES will look back at classic series such as HAPPY DAYS and its “jump the shark” episode, explain its historical significance and then broadcast that episode. Viewers will also be taken back in time to rediscover events that shaped our world, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the Beatles’ U.S. debut on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW and the birth of software and technology companies like Microsoft and Apple. DECADES will connect these events to what people were watching on television, seeing at the movies and experiencing as a nation.
The press release doesn’t offer much in the way of detail but of course it is just an announcement. Hopefully more information about Decades will be made available in the next few months. While I’d love to see Decades go the TCM route and air everything uncut and commercial free that’s never going to happen. I’m intrigued at the inclusion of archival footage from CBS News, and to a less extant from Entertainment Tonight, because it’s rare that old news reports, specials and documentaries are rebroadcast.
Increased competition in the already crowded classic TV diginet business could also finally lead to less well-known shows being dusted off and aired. All those hours have to be filled somehow. We’re probably never going to see truly obscure or short-lived shows. But we could certainly see more shows like Mr. Lucky, The Rebel, Banacek, The Deputy, and The Name of the Game would be nice. Those are all shows that are airing either on Me-TV or Cozi TV.
(Speaking of Me-TV, operated by Weigel Broadcasting, it currently airs a number of shows from the CBS library. Will they be pulled from Me-TV to become Decades exclusives?)
Decades will join Antenna TV, Cozi TV, Me-TV, and Retro TV, all of which focus heavily on classic TV shows, as well as This TV, FamilyNet, Bounce TV, and INSP, which also air some classic TV shows. In late September, Weigel launched Heroes & Icons, a new diginet with only a handful of affiliates that airs shows like Cannon, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West, and Wagon Train. And there’s The QUAD TV Networks, a proposed group of four classic TV diginets each focusing on a different decade that was announced in June 2013 but was put on hold in August 2014.