Monday, March 19, 2007

My Top 15 TV Channels – At The Moment

The guys over at have taken note of a report from the New York Daily News (one of the great newspapers in my opinion) which says that while the average American household gets over 100 TV channels (104.92 to be precise) thanks to cable and/or satellite, most of them only watch about 15 of them on any sort of regular basis. Which is interesting and may explain the cable industry's reluctance – to say the least – to the idea of a la carte pricing, but that's a whole different story. The Daily News article doesn't give any listing of which 15 channels are the most popular amongst the viewers surveyed. I suspect that it would reveal that the mass of religious channels collectively are on the list of fewer people than any one of the shopping channels which are in turn dwarfed as a group by the stations that serve up that diet of violent and sexual content that the PTC rails against.

As I never get tired of reminding you gentle readers, I am Canadian. This means that most of my pop culture is American but the delivery mechanism is usually from Canadian channels. Some of them are tied to an American partner, like HGTV or Food Network Canada, while others are independent and only linked to American channels by buying their product. The History Channel in Canada is one really big example. All it shares with the History Channel in the USA is the name. The point is that while there are apparent similarities between any list that I can produce and an American viewer's list, there are big differences. And as I implied in the title for this post what stations are on my top 15 list can change – often quite quickly. Right now for example I`m beginning to become interested in the W Network (formerly The Women`s Network) in part because they`re showing The Closer.

Before I reveal my list, I should present a few statistics. My cable service provider is Shaw Cable and I subscribe to their digital cable package. I have access to 157 channels – not counting listings channels, text channels, Pay Per View channels, and HD channels – of which I take 89. This includes time shifting stations for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS as well as three CW stations (now that Shaw gives us the Chicago feed of WGN rather than the national feed). And my top 15 channels (in approximate order of popularity) are:

  1. CBS
  2. NBC
  3. ABC
  4. FOX
  5. TSN (sports)
  6. Sportsnet
  7. Space: The Imagination Station (science fiction)
  8. The History Channel
  9. G4-TechTV
  10. BBC Canada
  11. Canadian Learning Television
  12. Food Network
  13. CBC
  14. The Score (sports)
  15. The Weather Network

There's only one Canadian broadcast station on that list – the CBC – and there's a good reason for that. CTV and Global, the two private networks available in this area, are primarily in the business of rebroadcasting American shows and normally I tune to the US stations to see those programs. And the Canadian stations know that which is why they schedule most of their American shows at the same time as they air in the US market and simultaneously substitute (simsub or as most people prefer simulcast) their signal over what is coming from the American source. There are no all-news channels on that list since I tend to browse for that sort of thing. If there were the list would have CBC Newsworld and BBC World far ahead of CNN and Headline News (particularly since Headline News abandoned its original premise and has become the Glenn Beck-Nancy Grace Network). And despite three CW feeds there's really only one show that I watch on that network, Smallville.

So those are my 15 networks. What are yours?

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