Are You Watching Diginets?

Earlier this month PBS launched a new digital specialty network called PBS KIDS Channel. By the end of the year, 90% of TV households in the country will have access to the new network, which features 24/7 educational programming. PBS KIDS Channel joins a crowded landscape of digital specialty networks, many of which focus on classic TV.

I’ve been writing about diginets for years. Several times I’ve expressed concern that there are too many but they keep coming even as little-watched cable channels start disappearing. Pivot folded last year and Esquire Network will shut down later this year (yet somehow Cloo continues to survive). Despite the fact that many diginets are available in more than 50% of households–and some in more than 80% or 90%–I suspect most people have no idea what they are.

The Rise of the Diginet

Unless you watch TV over-the-air, you may not be familiar with diginets, which are sometimes also called multicast networks. They were made possible by the transition from analog to digital television back in 2009. TV stations are able to broadcast multiple digital “subchannels” rather than just one analog channel.

This means an ABC station can offer ABC programming on its “primary” channel while also affiliating with one or more digital specialty networks.

Your cable company may also carry some or all of the diginets available over-the-air where you live.

Too Many Diginets?

For the most part, I only pay attention to classic TV diginets like MeTV and Antenna TV. But it’s becoming harder and harder to keep track of them and the programs they air. As far as I know, there is no comprehensive list of all the digital specialty networks that exist.

Some of the more notable include Antenna TV, Bounce TV, Buzzr, Comet, The Country Network, Cozi TV, Decades, Escape, getTV, Grit, Heroes & Icons, Justice Network, Laff, MeTV, Movies!, Retro TV, Rev’n, TheCoolTV, This TV, and The Works.

There’s also Spanish-language diginet TeleXitos and public TV diginets Create and World, plus the new PBS Kids Channel. At least one more diginet is launching later this year, an action-oriented network called Charge! that will feature TV and movies from MGM.

Obviously, the companies behind all these diginets are either making money or think they’ll be able to make money at some point. Only five diginets are currently rated by Nielsen: MeTV, Grit, Bounce TV, Escape, and Cozi TV. For the week ending January 22nd, they collectively averaged 1.71 million viewers in prime time. MeTV drew the most viewers (590,000) and Cozi TV the least (190,000). There is an audience, it seems, but it’s a small one.

How Many Diginets Do You Get?

The last time I checked, I get the following diginets: Antenna TV, Bounce TV, Comet, Cozi TV, Escape, Grit, Justice Network, Laff, and This TV. Also, Create and World plus two local public TV diginets. I don’t watch any of them regularly and haven’t since I finished watching It’s About Time and My Mother the Car on Antenna TV in late 2015 or early 2016. I wish there was a getTV affiliate in my area because it airs quite a few short-lived and pseudo-obscure TV shows.

If you watch TV over-the-air, it’s a good idea to occasionally rescan and look for new channels. That’s how I discovered Comet last year. It later showed up on cable as well, but I only found out because I was channel surfing.

How many diginets do you get and, more importantly, how many do you watch on a regular basis (if any)? Are there any you wish were in your area? Are you worried that there are too many diginets? Hit the comments with your thoughts.


17 Comments

  • David says:

    We have MeTV and getTV. I like that MeTV is currently showing “Our Miss Brooks,” which I have never seen rerun on any other station or network during my lifetime. I like getTV because they show a lot of unusual and obscure series and specials.

  • charles perry says:

    The only one I get is MeTV, but you should know that a lot of classic shows can be seen on streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. Currently, that seems to the only way you can watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” [RIP, MTM], but sometimes you can find obscurities on You Tube.

  • larry anderson says:

    I think we receive all but Bounce and Works. Our favorites in no particular order: Me, Retro, Cozi, Buzzr, Comet, Antenna. The biggest problem seems to be the rather constant changing of channels, affiliations and programs. Telemundo appears to have some diginets through LATV, both English and Spanish programs. On rare occasions there is a low power UHF station on that carries the Azteca America Network, ever hear of it? We enjoy watching these over-air stations, but probably like with the early days of mass cable in the 80s (I remember Nostalgia Network with old shows and minor league baseball games), most will either merge or be gone all together.

  • anthony says:

    In central Iowa, we have Antenna TV, MeTV, Heroes & Icons, Laff, Bounce (many rural cable providers don’t offer it), Comet, Escape, Grit, and This plus the 2 PBS offerings. MNT and Ion are also received as diginets.

    I regularly track the first four I mentioned, but have scaled back on MeTV and H&I since the 4:3 screen ratio was dropped. If it’s offered on a streaming service, I’ll watch it there so it’ll be uncut but watch it at the same pace as is offered on the diginet. Perhaps I’ll do something with my conglomerated schedules to make them available online.

  • Alan says:

    If you still ahve a big satellite dish and the proper receiver (like I do) you can get man of the diginets for free as they are ot scrambled. being able to subscribe to things is no loner an option on big dsih as of las July.

    But f you are stuck with LSD (Little Sucky Dish) chances are you will get none of them.

    Plus in smaller markets you will get the major networks and the mino ones on sub channels. I peoria IL ABC is a sub channel of NBC that also has CW as a.3

  • James Shell says:

    We get Decades, Cozi, MeTV, Comet, and Retro TV.

  • Patrick McNamara says:

    I sometimes get a couple but reception is too unreliable for me to watch them on any regular basis. On a good day I get the All Sports Network (ASN), CometTV, GetTV and Bounce. If I really try I’ve been able to get PBS and it’s sub-channels. But most of the time I have to fight for a signal. I usually rely more on satellite or more reliable off-air stations. But if it comes in, I may record and watch the odd movie.

    I wouldn’t say there’s too many because they’re not available in all areas.

  • Jim says:

    I get the following:

    GETTV
    METV
    AntennaTV
    Laff
    ThisTV
    Movies
    Cozi
    Buzzr

  • Lori says:

    Like Anthony, I also live in Central Iowa. But I live in a household with a die-hard U. of Iowa sports fan, so we got DISH Network satellite when we moved to a town from a rural neighborhood just over a year ago (Because the Big 10 network of channels that carry many U. of Iowa sports events are only available on cable and satellite). My previous home had a digital antenna and I really enjoyed watching MeTV, H&I, Antenna TV, thisTV, GRIT, and for awhile, RTV, and getTV. The house we moved into had no antenna for us to hook up our digital equipment to, and because we live about 40 miles from the transmission towers in the Des Moines area, we would have to spend another arm and a leg just to get the right antenna. While I miss MeTV, H&I, and Antenna TV the most, all is not lost. DISH Network currently carries the following digi-nets: getTV (channel 373), GRIT (channel 217), Laff (moved from channel 73 to channel 237 recently), Justice (I forget the channel, but it is around 250), and Cozi part-time (channel 82), sharing the channel slot with the religious network FETV. There is also a cable network called FamilyNet (channel 232) with is affiliated with the RFD TV cable network. It looks some like Antenna TV. I read elsewhere where these digi-networks are growing in viewership, which has me wondering if DISH could add more of these channels in the future? I hope so.

  • Dennis McKalips says:

    Here in SW Pennsylvania we get GETTV, METV, AntennaTV, GETTV
    Laff, ThisTV, Movies, Cozi, GRIT, Decades, Comet, Heroes And Icons,
    Retro, and the PBS diginets.
    We have a Channel Master DVR+ to record the shows that we like that are broadcast in the early morning.
    We live over 50 miles from Pittsburgh, but pick up their stations with a Channel Master CM4228 antenna with a pre-amp.

  • Tim Warneking says:

    I get MeTV on DirecTV through a dual-affiliation channel with MyNetworkTV, a subchannel of the local CBS affiliate. I have a weak antenna, but I started getting a local diginet with two subchannels of its own called Nebraska Central News. It is on channel 30. 30.1 has mostly high school sports local to the Grand Island, Nebraska area. 30.2 and 30.3 are mostly localized versions of WeatherNation but also has high school sports live.

  • Shelley haitko says:

    I want METV, Decadestv &Buzz,rTV but comcast won,t get thoase channels I have AmazonTV but Could I see these Channels streaming online live on Amazon?

  • John R. says:

    The over-the-air diginets I get in Colorado Springs are: Grit, MeTV (sharing a subchannel with My Network TV,) Ion and Cozi. I used to get Laff on my cable via the Blue Highways TV channel, but not any more. I wish I could get Antenna TV, Laff, Decades and Buzzr locally.

  • April Bailey says:

    I almost exclusively watch diginets. My favorites are MeTv, Justice Network, and Laff. I watch Get Tv because they run ‘In the heat of the night’ on weekdays.

  • imsa authority says:

    AllStarTrek on H&I is awesome. My family watches ToS and TNG nightly.

  • Neville Ross says:

    Here in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) I get the following from nearby Buffalo, New York (and sometimes-if the weather is warm and I’ve put up the antenna the right way-Rochester:

    WKBW TV, Channel 7 (ABC)

    *GRIT TV
    *Laff TV
    *Escape TV

    WGRZ TV, Channel 2 (NBC)

    *Antenna TV
    *Justice TV

    WNED TV, Channel 17 (PBS)
    *Create TV
    *PBS Kids

    WNLO TV, Channel 23 (CW)
    *Bounce TV

    Only WNLO’s Bounce TV and the two PBS subchannels comes through year round (for me), all of the others are subject to weather conditions (to get everything year round, you have to have an outdoor antenna, which I don’t have and don’t know if I can even have in my building.) Canadian media companies don’t believe in diginets, so we don’t have them on our TV at all. I was only able to get some of the Rochester sub-channels once, one summer.

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