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Weigel thinks comedy a better ‘catch’ for advertisers

(Image courtesy Weigel Broadcasting, Graphic by The Desk)
(Image courtesy Weigel Broadcasting, Graphic by The Desk)

There’s no shortage of comedy re-runs on digital broadcast television, with several networks – Laff, Rewind TV, Antenna TV, Me TV, Cozy TV and Fave TV — offering part or all of their schedules to the genre.

So, you know, what’s one more?

In late March, Weigel Broadcasting says it will convert its joint venture with CBS Television Stations, Decades TV, into a new classic comedy channel that will screen popular sitcoms like “I Love Lucy,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Night Court,” “Cheers” and “Taxi.”

In an interview with trade publication Variety, an executive with Weigel Broadcasting said the former Decades channel — which offered some of the shows listed above — had a bit of demographic and programming overlap with one of its other digital networks, the female-strong Start TV (which is also a joint venture with CBS).

“It made Decades less of a prominent network in our portfolio,” Neal Sabin, the vice chairman of Weigel, said. “It is doing just fine as an unrated diginet, but we felt it was time to up the game.”

By “unrated,” Sabin means Decades TV wasn’t measured by Nielsen, the analytics firm favored (to a certain extent) by broadcasters. While Decades TV wasn’t measured by Nielsen, the new channel — called Catchy Comedy — will be, and Sabin hopes the ad money follows.

“There are many advertisers that won’t look at these networks unless they’re rated, and we’re pretty confident that we have something here that will rate well,” Sabin confidently affirmed.

Decades TV is already accessible in nearly 70 percent of American households. The digital network is carried on Weigel-owned stations and some outlets owned by Fox and Hubbard Broadcasting (despite being a joint venture with CBS, stations owned by CBS dropped Decades TV for Start TV in 2018). Last year, Decades TV was made available across the country through the streaming cable TV alternatives Frndly TV and Philo.

Catchy Comedy will launch March 27, and will be carried on the same broadcast stations that previously offered Decades TV. It wasn’t clear if Frndly TV and Philo will carry Catchy Comedy upon its launch.

In addition to Start TV and the forthcoming Catchy Comedy, Weigel Broadcasting also operates Me TV (and Me TV Plus), Story Television and Heroes & Icons. Movies!, a digital broadcast network specializing in classic films, operates as a joint venture between Weigel Broadcasting and Fox.