In Depth

Viewers Discovering THIS TV

MGM Programming Package Expands to New Markets’ Subchannels

MGM’s THIS TV, a programming package that can run on subchannels that broadcasters will gain after the digital conversion in February, is slowly making ratings gains as it moves into 40 new markets over the next six months.

Offering programming from MGM’s vault including television series “The Outer Limits,” Charlie Chan films and newer releases such as 2004’s “De-Lovely,” THIS TV is entering agreements with affiliates owned by Fisher Communications, Hearst-Argyle Television, Post-Newsweek Stations and Sinclair Broadcast Group, the company said.

When the Feb. 17 digital transition takes effect, stations will gain spectrum that will leave room to broadcast several new subchannels. Currently, most broadcasters are using their additional spectrum for high-definition content or local weather. THIS TV, with its MGM content including feature film “The Mighty Quinn” and made-for-TV movie “The Burning Bed,” is one of the growing number of options for stations seeking content.

Other content providers have entered the arena, including the recently folded NBC Weather Plus, Guardian Enterprise Group’s .2 Network, who signed a deal last year with Sony Pictures Entertainment for Sony movies and series like “The Flying Nun,” and Luken Communications’ Retro Television Network, which airs classic television and commercials.

THIS TV, which provides programming to fill subchannels 24/7, gives broadcasters the ability to generate advertising revenue without worrying about creating their own content.

MGM said it’s happy with the ratings THIS TV is returning so far. The project was launched in cooperation with Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting Co. in November.

MGM noted that THIS TV is besting certain broadcast options during the day. THIS TV’s airing of “Frogs,” a 1972 horror film starring Ray Milland, beat out an airing of the Army-Rutgers college football game on independent station WMLW among households, as well as competing programming on MyNet affiliate WCGV.

MGM also said it’s pleased with ratings from THIS TV’s two other markets, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

“The channel is gaining momentum as our partners can see the benefit to adding it to their digital offerings given our early ratings performance,” said John Bryan, executive VP of broadcast strategy at MGM. Mr. Bryan, along with Weigel Executive VP Neal Sabin, spearheaded THIS TV’s launch.

Mr. Sabin said he’s been surprised by the ratings for THIS TV. He said the Milwaukee affiliate, GDJT, hasn’t overly promoted the station, but significant viewership has turned out in the infancy of the channel.

“In Milwaukee, they found it,” he said.