TV in the US



9 Questions

What percentage of households in the US owned at least one TV as of 2011?

Which are the four major US broadcast television networks?

When does prime time television in the US usually run?

What is the most-watched night of the week for television in the US?

What is the largest public television broadcaster in the United States?

What are regional sports networks?

What are premium channels?

What are the two major DBS providers in the US as of February 2014?

What is public access television?


Overview of Television in the United States

  • 96.7% of households in the US own at least one TV as of 2011, with 114,200,000 households owning a TV as of August 2013.

  • The majority of households have more than one TV.

  • The US has the largest and most distributed television networks in the world, and US-produced programs are the most widely syndicated internationally.

  • American television is said to have entered a modern golden age during the 2000s and 2010s, but whether this golden age continues is disputed.

  • TV in the US is available via broadcast, cable, unencrypted satellite, direct-broadcast satellite, and IPTV.

  • Broadcast television stations transmit on either VHF channels 2 through 13 or UHF channels 14 through 36.

  • Local TV stations may sign affiliation agreements with one of the national networks for the local rights to carry their programming, and the agreements are usually exclusive.

  • Local stations used to supplement network programming with locally produced shows, but now many stations produce only local news programs.

  • Commercial stations acquire programs through distributors of syndicated content to fill time not allotted to network and/or local programming.

  • The four major US broadcast television networks are NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox.

  • Weekday schedules on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates tend to be similar, with programming choices sorted by dayparts.

  • Network daytime schedules consist of talk shows and soap operas, and ABC, CBS, and NBC offer network news programs each evening.Overview of Commercial Television Networks in the United States

  • Prime time television in the US runs from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones and 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. elsewhere, with variations depending on the network and day.

  • Family-oriented comedy programs have been replaced by reality TV shows, scripted programs, and dramas in prime time.

  • Sunday is the most-watched night of the week, while Friday and Saturday have the lowest ratings.

  • Thursday night is important for advertisers to reach large television audiences before the weekend.

  • Local news programs and late-night interview shows follow prime time.

  • Saturday morning programming is aimed at children, while Sunday mornings feature public affairs programs.

  • Many independent TV stations still exist in the US, usually broadcasting on the UHF band.

  • Fox Broadcasting Company was launched in 1986 and has established itself as a major player in broadcast television.

  • Three new networks launched in the 1990s: The WB Television Network, the United Paramount Network (UPN), and Pax TV (now known as Ion Television).

  • The CW Television Network was created in 2006 when CBS Corporation and Time Warner merged UPN and The WB.

  • MyNetworkTV originally started as a conventional network with a format primarily consisting of English language telenovelas and later converted into a “broadcast programming service”.

  • Digital multicasting has given birth to various networks created for distribution on these multiplexed feeds of new and existing stations, with MeTV being the most popular and widely distributed network.Overview of Broadcast Television in the United States

  • Multicasting is a common format that relies on archived programming for subchannels.

  • Demographically focused networks such as Bounce TV and Katz Broadcasting's networks were created during the 2010s.

  • Luken Communications is the largest operator of subchannel networks by total number.

  • Spanish language broadcast networks such as Univision and Telemundo are the most common form of non-English television broadcasts in the US.

  • Other popular Spanish-language broadcast networks are UniMás, Azteca, TeleXitos, Estrella TV, and LATV.

  • The Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN) is the largest Spanish-language broadcasting network in the United States.

  • French language programming is generally limited in scope, with some locally produced French and creole programming available in the Miami area and Louisiana.

  • Many large cities also have television stations that broadcast programming in various Asian languages.

  • Public television has a far smaller role in the United States than in most other countries.

  • The Public Broadcasting Service is the largest public television broadcaster in the United States.

  • American public television stations air programming that commercial stations do not offer, such as educational and public affairs programming.

  • Many religious broadcast networks and stations exist, surviving on viewer contributions and time leased to the programming producers.Television Broadcasting in the United States

  • TBN and Daystar are two of the largest Christian broadcasting networks in the United States.

  • Other Christian broadcasters include Three Angels Broadcasting Network, Cornerstone Television, World Harvest Television, Hope Channel, Amazing Facts Television, The Word Network, The Worship Network, and Total Christian Television.

  • Other religions outside of evangelical Christianity also have television outlets, including the predominantly Roman Catholic-oriented Eternal Word Television Network, Jewish Life Television, and the LDS-affiliated Brigham Young University Television.

  • Spanish-language religious networks ESNE, Almavision, Vision Latina, and Enlace provide religious programming to Spanish-speaking viewers across the United States.

  • Public access television is a noncommercial form of television required by law to be offered to cable television consumers, in which members of the public are free to place their programming on the cable service.

  • Cable television only served to distribute distant over-the-air television stations to rural areas not served by stations that are based locally until the early 1970s.

  • Top cable networks include USA Network, ESPN and FS1, MTV, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, A&E, Syfy, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, AMC, Turner Classic Movies, E!, Bravo, TNT and FX, and Lifetime.

  • Premium channels – cable networks that subscribers have to pay an additional fee to their provider to receive – began launching in the 1970s.

  • Regional sports networks are cable outlets designed to cover a limited geographic region and metropolitan area.

  • The national cable television network became possible in the mid-1970s with the launch of domestic communications satellites.

  • Cable system operators now receive programming by satellite, terrestrial optical fiber, off the air, and from in-house sources and relay it to subscribers' homes.

  • DirecTV and Dish Network are the major DBS providers in the country, with 20 and 14 million customers respectively as of February 2014.


Think you know everything about television in the United States? Test your knowledge with our overview quiz! From the major broadcast networks to the rise of cable television and streaming services, this quiz covers it all. See if you can identify key facts and figures about the history, programming, and distribution of TV in the US. Perfect for trivia buffs and entertainment enthusiasts alike, this quiz is sure to keep you engaged and informed about the world of television broadcasting.

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