TBS (TV channel)
|Launched||December 17, 1976|
Turner Broadcasting System
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTVs)
SuperStation WTBS (1979–1987)
TBS Superstation (1987–1991 and 1996–2004)
|DirecTV||Channel 247 (HD/SD)|
|Dish Network||Channel 139 (HD/SD)|
|Available on most U.S. cable systems||Consult your local cable provider for channel availability|
Channel 112 (east; SD)
Channel 113 (west; SD)
Channel 1112 (east; HD)
Channel 1113 (west; HD)
Channel 552 (HD)
Channel 52 (SD)
|Google Fiber||Channel 284 (HD/SD)|
(requires login from pay television provider to access content)
TBS (stylized as tbs since 2004) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Time Warner, and operated through its Turner Broadcasting System division, which shares its name with the channel. TBS carries a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy, along with some sports events, including Major League Baseball and portions of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.
As of August 2013, TBS is available to approximately 99,231,000 pay television households (86.89% of households with at least one television set) in the United States.
- 1 Availability
- 2 History
- 3 High definition
- 4 Programming
- 5 References
- 6 External links
TBS is available on cable and satellite providers throughout the entire United States. Until October 1, 2007, the national TBS feed could not be viewed within its home market in the Atlanta metropolitan area, due to the over-the-air presence of WTBS (channel 17), which carried a nearly identical schedule, with the only differing programming being children programs that meet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s educational programming guidelines and public affairs programming.
The operations of WTBS and TBS Superstation were separated in October 2007, with the over-the-air Atlanta station becoming WPCH-TV, a general entertainment independent station focused solely on the Atlanta area. The national TBS feed became available to cable and satellite subscribers within channel 17's viewing area as a result.
TBS's programming was previously made available to cable and satellite subscribers in Canada through the WTBS Atlanta feed. However, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had only approved the Atlanta station's broadcast signal to be carried on cable and satellite providers domestically across Canada, not the TBS cable feed. As a result, following the separation of TBS and WTBS/WPCH in 2007, Canadian cable and satellite subscribers received access to WPCH/Atlanta (branded as "Peachtree TV"), instead of TBS. Most of TBS's flagship programming, such as Major League Baseball (both regular season and postseason games) and original series (such as Conan), are not broadcast on WPCH-TV, but are instead carried on other Canadian specialty channels.
TBS originated as a Georgia Championship Wrestling.
WTCG also bid very low on programming, leaving the network-affiliated stations in the market – WSB-TV (channel 2), WAGA-TV (channel 5) and WXIA-TV (channel 11) – to acquire the stronger shows. But, because of programming commitments that the affiliates had to their networks, those stations kept the shows for only a few years at a time and rarely renewed them, after which WTCG bought the syndicated shows second-hand at much lower prices. By the mid-1970s, The Andy Griffith Show, The Flintstones, Leave It to Beaver, The Little Rascals, My Three Sons, Star Trek, The Three Stooges and many others were added to the station's schedule.
In 1976, most U.S. cities below the top 20 media markets lacked independent stations running general entertainment programs, and generally had only stations affiliated with ABC, NBC and CBS, along with a non-commercial educational station. Cable providers in these areas carried stations from neighboring markets, and if possible, the independent station (often those located anywhere between 60 and 200 miles away). In some markets, however, this was not an option. This left cable providers with three markets lacking an independent station and two to three affiliates from each major network.
WTCG gets beamed via satellite
TBS became only the second U.S. cable channel to transmit its programming via satellite; HBO (which eventually became a sister channel to TBS through Time Warner's 1996 acquisition of the Turner Broadcasting System) began to distribute its signal nationally through satellite transmission on September 30, 1975 but cable subscribers were required to pay extra to receive that service. Ted Turner's innovation signaled the start of the basic cable revolution.
Initial change to WTBS
WTCG changed its callsign to WTBS on August 27, 1979. The new call letters were acquired via a monetary donation to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's student radio station (now WMBR) for the construction of a new transmitter. In the late 1970s, WTBS continued to acquire second-hand programming such as made-for-TV Popeye cartoons, The Brady Bunch, The Munsters and other programs. The station did manage to acquire reruns of All in the Family and Sanford and Son in 1979, as well as Little House on the Prairie and CHiPs in 1981. Other older shows would eventually be removed from the schedule. WTCG also mixed more movie releases from the 1950s through the 1970s onto its schedule.
The channel 17 transmitter was originally located at 1018 West Fox owned-and-operated station) and, later, channel 17, during its first three years as WJRJ-TV. Soon after being purchased by Turner, the station moved to new studio facilities located a few blocks west of that facility, to the former site of the Progressive Club. Initially, WTCG was identified as "Channel 17" both locally in Atlanta and on cable providers outside of that area. The same shows that ran on the local Atlanta broadcast were also aired nationally. After the station adopted WTBS as its callsign, Turner branded the station as "Superstation WTBS" with the reference to the channel 17 frequency in the Atlanta market within the logo. Many cable providers throughout the country even carried the channel on its customary channel 17 position.
In 1981, Turner decided to have all of the shows carried by WTBS continue to air both locally and nationally, but separated the feeds (in a move that preceded fellow superstations WGN-TV and WWOR-TV doing the same thing after the Federal Communications Commission's passage of the Syndication Exclusivity Rights rule in 1989). The station would be branded locally in Atlanta as "Superstation 17." The over-the-air signal would continue to air local commercials as well. Nationally, though, the station would not mention the channel number "17" and would use logos identifying it only as "Superstation WTBS". Separate national advertising or per inquiry ads would air on the superstation feed.
During the 1980s, WTBS focused heavily on movies – running two films during the day, and a movie-exclusive schedule during the nighttime hours after 8:00 p.m., with the exception of sports events. At other times, WTBS continued to run mostly classic sitcoms, and vintage cartoons. In 1986, when Ted Turner purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which he would sell back to previous owner Kirk Kerkorian that October due to debt incurred by the Turner Broadcasting System from its purchase of the film studio), WTBS gained the rights to the entire MGM film library (including certain acquisitions by MGM). This gave WTBS the rights to air many theatrical cartoon shorts such as Tom & Jerry, as well as shows like Gilligan's Island and CHiPs.
Along with Tom & Jerry, WTBS began to run The Little Rascals, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons released prior to August 1948, theatrical Popeye cartoon shorts, and Three Stooges shorts under the banner Tom & Jerry and Friends running for either one hour or 90 minutes during the morning hours and for an hour in the afternoon from 1986 until the mid-1990s. In the late 1980s, WTBS decreased the amount of movies broadcast during the day slightly and began to add sitcoms from the 1970s (such as Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Good Times and One Day at a Time) to the evening lineup; Little House on the Prairie aired during the late mornings continuously from 1986 to 2003.
Music videos also aired during its late night lineup on weekends from 1983 to 1992 as part of the program Night Tracks, with up to 14 hours of programming (barring constant preemptions from sporting events running overtime). Beginning in 1991, a handful of shows (mostly movies) that were shown nationally were preempted in the Atlanta market in order to broadcast FCC-mandated news, public affairs and children's programming – this continued until the split of the TBS national feed from the Atlanta area station. Programming on WTBS had always been Syndex-proof as it licensed all programming to be able to run nationally, in addition to being shown in the Atlanta market. Most of these shows run nationally were also syndicated in local markets on the respective local stations through additional agreements.
TBS was also the television home of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) (the promotion was formerly owned by Jim Crockett Promotions, which fell under the NWA umbrella); it carried a weekly show from the wrestling promotion, WCW Saturday Night, which ran on the channel from 1992 to 2000, and was the flagship program for the WCW before Monday Nitro launched in 1995 on sister channel TNT. Another WCW show, WCW Thunder, debuted in 1998 on Thursday nights; the program was moved to Wednesdays in 2000, before it was cancelled in 2001 when TBS executive Jamie Kellner determined that wrestling did not fit the demographics of either TBS or TNT and would not be favorable enough to get the "right" advertisers to buy airtime, even though Thunder was the highest-rated show on the channel at the time.
Throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, TBS also carried the Electra teletext service on its vertical blanking interval; Electra was discontinued in 1993 due to a lack of funding. In the early 1990s, shows such as The Flintstones, The Brady Bunch, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts, Gilligan's Island, and others remained on the schedule as other older shows such as The Three Stooges and Little Rascals shorts, and Leave it to Beaver were dropped from the channel and made way for more sitcoms from the 1980s such as Three's Company, Who's the Boss?, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Saved by the Bell. Original animated programs such as Captain Planet and the Planeteers, 2 Stupid Dogs and SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron were also added to the lineup.
In 1996, the Turner Broadcasting System was acquired by Time Warner; among the programming changes instituted after the merger was the addition of Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons that were released after August 1, 1948, which began airing in January 1997.
Shift towards comedy
In 1997, TBS began to collect subscriber fees directly from cable operators, effectively causing the national feed to begin operating under the conventions of a basic cable channel, although it was still technically designated as a superstation. In exchange, TBS began to lease advertising slots to cable providers to allow them to locally insert commercials in the provider's service area; as a result, the channel began to broadcast fewer Atlanta Braves regular season games to a national audience. In 1999, WTBS dropped all of its remaining cartoons (which at the time were running under the Disaster Area banner), with those shows migrating to Cartoon Network and becoming the core of a new cable channel devoted to classic cartoons that launched several months later called Boomerang.
WTBS continued to run a mix of movies, sitcoms and drama series. By 2001, several sitcoms from the 1980s and 1990s such as Full House, Family Matters, The Cosby Show, Friends, Seinfeld and Home Improvement became part of the schedule, many of them airing as part of the afternoon "Non-Stop Comedy Block" by 2002. In 2003, WTBS dropped Little House on the Prairie and other dramatic programming as a part of its new focus on comedic programs, such as sitcom reruns, original reality television series, and theatrically released comedy films. As part of this focus, TBS adopted the slogan "Very Funny" and introduced a new logo in June 2004. The refocusing is intended as a direct contrast to sister channel TNT, which had focused on older movies initially but moved toward and now focuses on drama series and films.
Split from the Atlanta signal
In late June 2007, the Turner Broadcasting System announced that WTBS would change its callsign to WPCH-TV, and would be rebranded as "Peachtree TV". The rebranded channel 17 would offer sitcoms and movies geared specifically toward the station's Atlanta audience, and would also broadcast 45 Atlanta Braves baseball games starting with the 2008 season. The change occurred on October 1, with the national feed becoming a separate cable channel that retained the TBS name. In addition, the channel 17 changeover allowed cable and satellite subscribers in the Atlanta market – which previously received WTBS's local Atlanta signal – to receive the national TBS feed for the first time since the early 1980s. Following the change, Canadian cable providers were legally required to continue carrying the local Peachtree TV signal, instead of switching to the national TBS feed. Beginning with the 2008 season, TBS began airing Major League Baseball postseason games, with regular season baseball coverage expanding to include games from other MLB teams.
In November 2009, TBS debuted its first Conan, after TBS struck a deal to give Conan O'Brien a show on the channel on the heels of his controversial exit as host of NBC's The Tonight Show. Lopez Tonight ended its run on August 12, 2011, after it was cancelled due to a steep decline in ratings. In 2011, TBS also obtained the partial cable television rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship – which it shares with Turner-owned sister channels TNT and TruTV, along with the tournament's longtime broadcaster, CBS.
During the first quarter of 2012, TBS's viewership in the 18-49 adult demographic beat all other advertiser-supported cable channels, in spite of the fact that TBS did not air any original programs in prime time during that period nor had it aired a show among the 50 highest-rated cable programs. The channel's third late-night talk show, The Pete Holmes Show, debuted on October 28, 2013, hosted by comedian Pete Holmes (like Lopez Tonight, it could not capitalize on Conan as its lead-in and was cancelled in May 2014).
Evolution of the TBS branding
Over the years, TBS has had several logos and undergone multiple name changes. As a superstation, it was named "SuperStation WTBS" starting in 1979. In 1987, the "W" from the "WTBS" callsign was dropped from the superstation's on-air branding in order to emphasize the channel's national programming prominence, with the WTBS Atlanta signal using the separate branding of "Superstation 17". On September 28, 1989, SuperStation TBS changed its name to "TBS Superstation" to reflect the strong national standing of the channel.
In 1991, the word "Superstation" was removed from the cable channel's on-air branding and promotions, rebranding it as simply "TBS"; this continued until December 17, 1996, when TBS celebrated its 20th anniversary as a national service, with the channel reverting its name back to "TBS Superstation" (promotions for the channel's programming beginning at this time until 2004 often verbally referred to the national feed only as "the Superstation"). The "Superstation" sub-brand was once again dropped in early 2004, with the channel reverting to being branded as simply TBS, months before it adopted a new logo that rendered the channel's name in lowercase and incorporated a half-circle made to resemble a mouth open as if it were laughing to signify the channel's new comedy programming focus.
TBS HD is a high definition simulcast feed of TBS, which broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format and was launched on September 1, 2007. Prior to the launch of the national channel's HD feed, WTBS's digital signal – which is viewable over-the-air in the Atlanta market – had already transmitted in high definition (although most programs seen on the station, with the exception of Atlanta Braves and Southeastern Conference college football games, were broadcast in upconverted standard definition and pillarboxed until April 3, 2011); it was replaced by the superstation feed's HD simulcast, instead of simulcasting what became Peachtree TV.
Much like sister channel TNT, TBS airs a moderate amount of program content broadcast in 4:3 standard definition stretched to the 16:9 widescreen format through a non-linear process similar to the "panorama" setting on many HDTVs that some viewers have nicknamed Stretch-o-Vision after it was first used by TNT; though other HD simulcast feeds operated by cable channels have also adopted this practice. The non-linear stretching process leaves objects in the center of the screen with approximately their original aspect ratio; objects at the left and right edges are distorted (horizontal panning makes the distortion especially apparent). In addition to true HD content in 16:9, TBS HD also airs unstretched, upconverted standard definition content in its original aspect ratio, but commercials are aired in either format without stretching for ads produced in 480i. TBS launched a HD feed for its Pacific Time Zone feed on June 18, 2010.
TBS currently airs a mix of original sitcoms and reruns of sitcoms that were originally broadcast on the major broadcast networks. Original programs currently seen on TBS include Conan, American Dad!, Cougar Town, Deal With It, Sullivan & Son and Ground Floor. The channel's daytime schedule is heavily dominated by reruns of current and former network comedies, with these shows also airing in the evening and sporadically during the overnight hours. Such programs include Family Guy, Friends, Seinfeld, The King of Queens, Married... with Children, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Big Bang Theory.
On June 29, 1981, TBS (as SuperStation WTBS) began to use an off-time scheduling format for its programming known as "Turner Time." While program offerings on other broadcast and basic cable channels generally began at the top and bottom (:00 and :30 minutes) of each hour, TBS decided to begin airing programs five minutes later, at :05 and :35 minutes past the hour. Programs seen on TBS were listed under their own time entry in TV Guide, during the period in which the magazine published log listings, as a result of this scheduling, thus enabling the program listings to catch potential viewers' eyes more readily. The use of "Turner Time" also encouraged channel surfers who could not find anything interesting to watch at the top of the hour to still be able to watch a program on TBS without missing the first few minutes. Most importantly, since shows ended five minutes later than normal, from a strategic standpoint the off-time scheduling usually encouraged viewers to continue watching TBS rather than turning to another channel to watch a program that would already be airing in progress.
TBS reduced its use of the "Turner Time" scheduling in 1997 and switched entirely to conventional start times at the top and bottom of the hour by 2000. However, unconventional start times continue to be used for movies airing on the channel – whose running times may vary depending on the film's length with commercials added to pad the timeslot (for example, a movie that starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time may cause subsequent programming to start within the half-hour, such as at :15 and :45 after the hour). This often causes major disruptions in the start times of programming. In some circumstances, conventional "top-and-bottom" start times would not be restored until early the next morning. While this is not exactly related to the "Turner Time" format, it may strategically serve the same purposes due to the off-time scheduling. The "Turner Time" format is similar to the scheduling applied by most premium channels and certain other movie-oriented services (which schedule the start of programs in variable five-minute increments); other broadcast and cable channels have utilized similar off-time scheduling formats (such as Telemundo – which utilizes a "Turner Time"-style scheduling for programs during the first two hours of prime time – and Viacom-owned channels such as Nick at Nite, MTV and TV Land).
One type of programming that TBS does not produce presently is news. Nevertheless, TBS – during its existence as a superstation – produced a 20-minute newscast called 17 Update Early in the Morning from 1976 to 1979; hosted by Bill Tush and Tina Seldin, the program was taped at the end of the workday and aired between movies around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Its format was similar to the Saturday Night Live segment Weekend Update and was, to a certain extent, a forerunner to The Daily Show. The timeslot and the satirical content of the program were a reaction to FCC rules in effect at the time that required stations to carry some news and information content – although TBS had to broadcast news, the FCC could not dictate when it aired or demand that it have a serious tone. 17 Update Early in the Morning was cancelled months before Ted Turner began his serious television news venture, CNN.
CNN also produced an hour-long weeknight news program for TBS called the TBS Evening News that usually ran at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time during the early 1980s. For many years, WTBS also ran a half-hour simulcast of CNN's sister channel Headline News (now HLN) each morning at 6:00 a.m.; this was only carried in the Atlanta area and on cable providers in the market that received the local feed (currently, as WPCH-TV, the Atlanta station runs an hour-long simulcast block of HLN's news programming daily at 6:00 a.m.).
On September 11, 2001, TBS (along with sister channels TNT, Court TV, Headline News, CNNfn and CNNSI) carried CNN's coverage of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. During sports blackouts in some areas (particularly in markets where a channel such as a local broadcast station or regional sports network has the regional or local broadcast rights to a particular sporting event that is scheduled to air elsewhere around the country on TBS), TBS carries rolling news coverage from HLN in its place.
Feature films have been a mainstay of TBS since its inception as a superstation. In the present day, most of the films seen on TBS are of the comedy genre, however some drama and action films continue to air on the channel periodically; movies on the channel generally air during the overnight hours on a daily basis and during much of the day on weekends (except from between 5:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays and 5:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday mornings – with the start time subject to variation – due to sitcom blocks that typically air in those timeslots); this is in stark contrast to its existence as a superstation, when movies also filled late morning, early afternoon and prime time slots on weekdays. TBS broadcasts movies from sister companies Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, along with films produced by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Paramount Pictures.
In the recent past, TBS had frequently aired its prime time movies interspersed with other content and commentary (for example, Dinner and a Movie included cooking segments, while Movie and a Makeover featured fashion content); these wraparound segments later moved to weekend afternoon film presentations, before being dropped entirely by 2011. Since 1997, TBS has broadcast the 1983 film A Christmas Story in a 24-hour marathon from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, which also ran simultaneously on sister channel TNT until 2009. Once each weekend, TBS airs a movie in prime time with limited commercial interruption, branded in promo advertisements under the title "More Movies, Less Commercials" (sister channel TNT also runs a prime time movie each weekend, that is telecast with limited commercial interruption).
Coverage of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team (which was formerly owned by Ted Turner) was perhaps TBS's signature program, mainly due to its viewer popularity in Georgia and neighboring states. Turner once famously tried to get 2006 MLB All-Star Game, it was announced that TBS would begin carrying a television package that includes all major league teams beginning with the 2007 season. TBS began carrying all Division Series games and one of the two League Championship Series (assuming the rights from Fox and ESPN) as well as the announcements of the All-Star teams and any possible games to determine division winners and wild card teams (those were also carried previously on ESPN). In 2008, TBS began airing MLB regular season Sunday games, with the provision that no team may appear on the telecasts more than 13 times during the season.
During the 2007 transitional year, TBS aired 70 regular-season Braves games. In 2008, the number of Braves telecasts was reduced to only 45 games, with TBS's former Atlanta feed, WPCH-TV solely carrying the telecasts; Turner syndicates the package to other television stations and cable channels for broadcast in the remainder of the Braves' designated market area. The final Braves game to be broadcast on TBS aired on September 30, 2007, with the first divisional playoff game airing the following day on October 1, 2007 (when the TBS/WPCH split occurred).
On October 18, 2008, a technical problem at the channel's master control facility in Atlanta prevented TBS from showing the first inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays; the channel aired a rerun episode of The Steve Harvey Show instead.
In 2011, TBS obtained the television rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, with broadcast rights shared with CBS, and fellow Turner properties TNT and TruTV. TBS and the other two Turner-owned networks presently broadcast games played in the second and third rounds of the tournament, with TBS alternating broadcast coverage with CBS on the regional semifinals. However, TBS' broadcast coverage will expand in 2016 to include the regional finals, Final Four, and national championship game on an alternating basis with CBS.
College football games from the Big 12 and Pac-10 athletic conferences aired on TBS for several years beginning in 2000 through a sub-licensing agreement with Fox Sports. That agreement ended after the 2006 season.
National Basketball Association
NBA basketball games aired on TBS from the late 1970s until the broadcast rights were moved entirely to TNT in 2000. Some games from the Atlanta Hawks (which were also owned by Turner) were shown on TBS until the telecasts on TNT and the TBS superstation feed became subject to blackout within 35 miles of the home team's arena; this restriction was dropped when TNT gained the right to be the exclusive broadcaster of any game it chose to carry.
Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (1984–1985), Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling, and Jim Crockett, Jr.'s Jim Crockett Promotions (1985–1988), which eventually became Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling (1988–2001). Through the early 1990s, the wrestling programs were among basic cable's highest-rated offerings, due to heavy viewership in the Southeastern United States, as with Braves baseball coverage.