There was a time a few years ago when I foolishly thought I could keep track of all the digital specialty networks like Antenna TV, MeTV and Cozi TV that air classic television programming. This was around mid-2013. I was very wrong. It’s hard to even remember how many classic TV diginets there are, let alone what shows they’re airing and when schedules are being overhauled or altered. I only get a few of them via cable or over-the-air. At some point, I had to stop trying to report all the schedule changes. It just didn’t make sense to spend so much time and energy when so few short-lived or halfway forgotten TV shows are actually airing on any of these networks.
However, I know there is a lot of interest in these classic TV networks. So, I’ve decided to occasionally publish general updates with the latest information on schedules and programming additions. Perhaps every six months or so. I’m kicking things off this month with “The State of Classic TV on TV: January 2016 Edition” examining the latest changes affecting diginets Retro TV, The Family Channel, Me-TV, Antenna TV, Cozi TV, getTV, Heroes & Icons, and Decades.
Not included in this overview are diginets This TV, Laff, Escape, The Works, Buzzr, Grit, or Comet. These networks feature mostly movies, game shows, or primarily TV shows from the 1980s and 1990s. However, some of them do air limited classic TV programming. For example, This TV airs The Addams Family and Sea Hunt; Grit airs Laramie and Zane Grey Theater; and Comet airs Men into Space.
Retro TV (Launched July 2005)
Retro TV introduced its Winter 2016 schedule on December 28th, 2015. It mostly airs popular classic TV shows like Bonanza, Dragnet, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Route 66 but also airs several more recent shows in prime time (Cold Squad and Da Vinci’s Inquest). It also airs Movin’ On (NBC, 1974-1976).
In 2015, Retro TV added Mister Peepers, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Police Surgeon, and The Jerry Lewis Show to its schedule. Only The Jerry Lewis Show and Police Surgeon appear to still be airing on the network. Retro TV also continues to air episodes of the NBC soap opera The Doctors as well as Doctor Who and Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The Family Channel (Launched December 2008)
Formerly known as My Family TV, The Family Channel is co-owned by Luken Communications, the same company that operates Retro TV. It debuted a new schedule on December 28th, 2015 that focuses primarily on general entertainment, health, outdoors, and wellness programming. It does air some classic TV shows, including Route 66, The Beverly Hillbillies, I Married Joan, Naked City, and Movin’ On.
Me-TV (Launched December 2010)
Of all the classic TV networks in existence, I have the hardest time keeping up with Me-TV. It seems to change its schedule more often than any of the others. It introduced a new schedule on January 4th that saw Mama’s Family and The Patty Duke Show join the network. On February 8th, Me-TV will overhaul hits schedule with the addition of The Incredible Hulk and Diagnosis Murder, plus the return of The Twilight Zone and Kojak. Several shows will be leaving, including Quincy, M.E., Route 66, and Naked City. A half-dozen other shows will move to new times. A full rundown of the February changes can be found here.
Otherwise, it looks like Me-TV continues to air the same mix of big name classics: M*A*S*H, Bonanza, Happy Days, Batman, Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek, and The Andy Griffith Show. The network continues to offer affiliates the choice to air The Rebel on Saturday mornings or educational/instructional programming.
Antenna TV (Launched January 2011)
Antenna TV’s January 2016 schedule went into effect on on January 1st. The big news for the diginet is the addition of “full” episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. According to a Variety.com article from August 2015, the episodes will be “as intact as possible” with new licensing/residual agreements for musical performances being negotiated for each episode. 90-minute episodes from the 1970s air on Saturdays and Sundays from 10-11:30PM ET while hour-long episodes from the 1980s and 1990s air weeknights from 11PM-12AM ET.
Also joining Antenna TV in January are Dear John and Mork & Mindy. Returning shows include McHale’s Navy, Leave It to Beaver, Gidget, and The Monkees. Shows leaving the network either temporarily or for good include Married with Children, The Flying Nun, and Diff’rent Strokes. One season wonders It’s About Time and My Mother The Car, which joined Antenna TV in September of this year, remain on the schedule.
Cozi TV (Launched January 2013)
A complete list of changes to Cozi’s schedule for Winter 2016 can be found here. The diginet is only adding one new show: The A-Team. Among the shows being removed are The Name of the Game, Dragnet, and Run for Your Life. Returning shows include It Takes a Thief, The Virginian, Charlie’s Angels, and The Six Million Dollar Man.
getTV (Launched February 2014)
getTV has made big strides in the past five months. It used to feature an all-movie format. In September 2015, it added three western TV series: Nichols, Hondo, and A Man Called Shenandoah. Three more were added the following month: The Tall Man, Whispering Smith, and Laredo. Also in October, getTV debuted a Monday-night block of variety and talk shows featuring The Judy Garland Show and The Merv Griffin Show, plus a rotating mix of musical variety specials and episodes from variety shows like The Perry Como Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Jim Nabors Hour, and more. The current weekly getTV schedule can be found here.
Heroes & Icons (Launched September 2014)
Heroes & Icons is owned by Weigel Broadcasting, the same company that operates Me-TV. Its Winter 2016 schedule went into effect on January 18th. It airs a mix of classic TV shows and more recent fare like The Pretender, The Commish, The White Shadow, and Hill Street Blues. Among the classic TV shows it airs are The Guns of Will Sonnett, Have Gun Will Travel, Combat!, The Saint, 12 O’Clock High, and one season wonders The Rebel and Stagecoach West. At some point this year all five live-action Star Trek TV shows will join Heroes & Icons.
Decades (Launched October 2014)
Decades is co-owned by CBS Corporation and Weigel Broadcasting (which operates Me-TV and Heroes & Icons). It takes a very different approach to its schedule by airing a daily six-hour block of programming related to a single theme. The block features a mix of movies, documentaries, and classic TV shows and is repeated four times each day. Interstitial material examines that day’s theme, as does an original series called Through the Decades (hosted by Bill Kurtis) that features archival CBS News footage.
On weekends, Decades airs “binge” marathons of classic TV shows. Among the shows it has aired are Kojak, The Brady Bunch, The Millionaire, I Love Lucy, The Big Valley, The Mothers-in-Law, and The Doris Day Show. The current schedule for Decades can be found here.
Be sure to hit the comments with any corrections or comments.