CBS to Launch Retro Digital Channel Focused on Pop Culture, History

Vintage vs modern Television Debate I

The CBS O&O group is finally developing its ample digital subchannel real estate, partnering with Weigel Broadcasting to launch an outlet devoted to vintage TV and pop culture.

The channel dubbed Decades aims to stand apart from other retro-TV services by offering wrap-around programming designed to highlight the overall theme of the day’s program slate. The anchor of this effort will be an hourlong daily program, “Decades Retrospectical,” that will examine the news and events of a particular day or period in history, and all of the programs airing that day will reflect the theme.

Billed as “the ultimate TV time capsule,” Decades will allow CBS to make use of its vast library of TV series, telepics and movies, which range from “I Love Lucy” (pictured) to “Cheers” to “Beverly Hills, 90210,” as well as the archives of CBS News, “Entertainment Tonight” and other inhouse resources. The channel will be carried by the 16 CBS O&Os, and offered to stations in other markets on a syndicated basis in exchange for a national/local split of advertising time.

The ambitious plan for the Decades services comes on the heels of last week’s news that the Eye was venturing into the SVOD arena with the launch of CBS All Access service, which also hopes to mine the Eye’s well-stocked program vault to generate new profits for CBS Corp.

For all of the Eye’s market clout, the station group partnered with Weigel, the Chicago-based indie that has carved a niche in developing digital channels including the widely distribbed Me TV service. Weigel owns a handful of stations in Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend, but it has led the industry in mining the value of the digital subchannls that full-power local TV stations inherited in making the transition to all-digital broadcasting nearly a decade ago.

Back in 2008, Weigel teamed with MGM to launch This TV, the first prominent nationally distributed service tailored for local stations’ digital sub channels. Weigel is in business with the Fox Television Stations group on the Movies! Network channel that launched last year. Decades is targeting a second quarter launch next year.

“Decades is the most ambitious and creative subchannel programming service that has ever been created,” said Peter Dunn, CBS Television Stations president. “We are thrilled to partner with Weigel Broadcasting, the leaders in this space, to make smart use of our stations’ spectrums and our companies’ considerable programming assets. This service will be a tremendous new business for CBS and all of the other stations across the country that participate, regardless of their primary network affiliation.”

Weigel will handle distribution and sales for Decades outside of CBS O&O markets, which cover most of the top 20 TV markets.

“Decades takes the digital broadcast network platform to a new level,” said Weigel prexy Norman Shapiro. “Viewers will ‘Relive, Remember & Relate’ to the events that touched their lives and generations past. The events, themes and programming possibilities are endless.”

CBS had been slower than its rivals to develop programming for its digital subchannels. Eye O&Os in New York and Philadelphia have done local news programming on their channels, which will be replaced next year by Decades.

NBC has experimented with local news and weather offerings, and now has the Cozi TV vintage channel. ABC launched the LiveWell lifestyle and how-to network across its group and in syndication in 2009 but is pulling the plug as of January to focus on locally-oriented programming in each of its eight O&O markets.

The Ion TV station group has the Qubo kidvid service running across its 60-plus stations. Other station groups have filled digital channels with Me TV, Tribune Broadcasting’s Antenna TV, Sony Pictures TV’s GetTV and the startup Bounce TV, which targets African-American viewers.

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  1. Marvin Davis says:

    My suggestion for more old school shows are shows like Land of the Giants. Benny Hill show. Soul Train.

  2. michael benedetti says:

    Well Decades Has Advertised ENDLESSLY That They Have These
    “T.V. Binges” On Weekends and They Make Sure They Show “The Twilight Zone” Although I’ve Never Seen A “Weekend Binge ” Featuring “the Twilight Zone” Even Though They’ve gone Through Evrey Other Show ; THREE TIMES OR MORE …………”Family Affair”,….” Car 54″ …”Doris Day” ETC. ETC. ETC. Most Likely The CHEAPEST CRAP THEY CAN GET THEIR GREEDY HANDS ON!!!!!!!! I’ and Many Other T.V. Enthusieists Would Wish You (DECADES T.V.) and C B S The “PARENT” CO> To “PUT UP OR SHUT UP”…..Thank You……..Michael ( “The Midnight Rambler”.) Bene Spaghetti

  3. Nikki Anderson says:

    Love decades tv! We’d like to see Western movies and more detective series! Great job showing Mission Impossible and Kojak marathons! Would love a Streets of San Francisco marathon! Us boomers love you!

  4. Rosemary Nash says:

    I just finish watching Dark Shadow on decades it went off far to soon could you please please bring Dark Shadow back again soon what happen to Willie after he got shot 5 times in the back did Barnabas kill him or did the Dr make him forget about everything also could you send me free copies of Dark Shadow with all episodes over 1700

  5. brian says:

    I absolutely love this channel. Mission impossible was my favorite show from the early seventies. Thank you, new television is full of untalented actors and badly written. People need to be exposed to these programs. I hope to see ‘Your show of shows’ with Sid Caesar!!!!

  6. brian bible says:

    Thank you so much for this GREAT CHANNEL!! This brings back so many memories, a time when things were a lot different.TV was innocent to me. I REALY enjoyed the programs and the actors and actresses of that time. Again THANK YOU SO MUCH, for bringing back the GREAT STUFF!!!

  7. Mary Hacia says:

    Please provide a list of shows you will have on until the official launch.

  8. tony holmes says:

    Great channel will you be bring back kojak hope so

  9. Bob says:

    No mention of Retro TV (not the genre but the actual network) ? They are also doing this and have 100+ affliates nationwide. They were on the ABC affiliate in my area until they got replaced by MeTV.

  10. Blake says:

    I love those old shows. I am in my 40s and I grew up with reruns of many of these shows. I’m no fuddy duddy, but a lot of today’s programming is TRASH with fowl language and immoral themes. This teaches our children very bad morals – no wonder crime has skyrocketed and drug use is rampant in this country. Furthermore, the USA incarcerates more people than any country on Earth! I love the morals of Andy Griffith and Mayberry and so on. The haters are part of the ‘PC” anything-goes crowd that have caused SO MUCH damage to our America since the 1960s.

  11. Jacqueline Hickman says:

    I see you are playing the old shows, please could you feature COLUMBO WITH PETER FAULK I LOVE THE SHOWS THANK YOU

  12. Esco Blaylock III says:

    Question, on Retro TV can we broadcast Bosom Buddies? Im a 41 year old man from NYC whom use to watch such a show, along with threes company six million dollar man etc.
    Now with me having a upper business degree, I know concerning the networks programs that can be obtained can be an issue. But im sure the time it was broadcast and properties of this program people will watch…

    Thank you
    Esco Blaylock

  13. l.m. minda says:

    I love the idea of this channel, but ya’ll gonna make us watch this Binge until MAY? Please dont….I cant wait for normal programming! No disrespect.

  14. Honeywest says:

    I love vintage TV. I will be watching CBS!

  15. Joyce DeWitt says:

    Love the old black and whites tv shows
    Thank you CBS!

  16. Norton231 says:

    If you don’t like it, then don’t watch. Problem solved.

    • CMarks says:

      Perfect advice. My mother lives in an assisted living facility and they watch hours of DVDs of old TV shows. They still laugh at Lucy, love Andy Griffith, try to solve murdes with JB Fletcher and enjoy many of the other older shows that have made it to DVD. This retro channel should provide them with many more shows that will bring back wonderful memories. Good for CBS. Believe me, if there proves to be no market for this type of programming it will go away quickly.

      • Renee Portolese says:

        I sure would hate to live where these haters live: only having one channel to watch & no other channels to choose from. Man, that must be terrible to HAVE to watch a channel that they don’t like, huh? Or maybe their remote’s batteries are dead & they don’t have enough sense to know how to change the channel without the remote? I mean, usually when you don’t like a show/channel, you simply change the channel & move on. I never knew you HAD to continue watching a channel you didn’t like. Unless, of course, you wanted to watch something just so that you could have something to complain about??? Personally, I’m extremely happy to have another choice of DECENT shows to watch. We love the retro channels & the choice of older, wholesome shows that show common sense & morals instead of lots of foul language, sex, immorality, stupidity, etc.

  17. Dale Brett says:

    Ohh BTW I am 50 years old so I’m not a young buck telling you this. That old junk was garbage then and I don’t know Why today’s modern society would even waste time broadcasting that old crap and wasting the tv bands with crap !!

  18. Norton231 says:

    You morons don’t know what you’re talking about. We need more old programming to counter all the reality show garbage that passes for entertainment today, most likely the crap you guys watch. Decades, bring it on!

    • Dale Brett says:

      Old junk at least reality shows bring today’s Modern ways. What do you learn when you watch shows like Lucy or Jennie some b/s show about a Fake girl that lives in a bottle. WTF. Junk that just rots your brain and a total waste of time.That was f up time back then now today’s programs bring more education on modern ways. Get with it and like I said Burry the old garbage.

  19. Dale Brett says:

    I hated those shows when I was a kid and didn’t waste my time watching it then and I’m not wasting my time now watching them again now !! Bury them already it’s OLD garbage !!

  20. Jacques Strappe says:

    Even CBS’ new programming is old. The network is officially out of ideas. This is such an awful idea.

  21. MelliG says:

    I think this is an AWESOME IDEA!!! I was born in the 70’s, so I’m a product of the 80’s. I think there’s something about us from the 70’s- seems-at least everyone *I* know-seems to kinda wish they grew up in the 50’s…maybe because it was a simpler time. I don’t know. But, this is an awesome idea, for people of all ages, who can see/get a GRASP of an idea of what it was like during different eras. Obviously, I’m talking about with the news programming– but also, the TV PROGRAMMING itself. How much it’s changed! What they wouldn’t allow then as opposed as to now. I mean Lucy & Desi weren’t even allowed to been shown sleeping in a marriage bed/one bed! Lol! They had to be in 2 twin beds! I think if folks will get into it and TRY and get their kids/tweens/teens into it that it’d be GREAT!
    I just remembered the Hostage crisis that ‘plastered’ the news back then…and I was young. Remember how Tom Hanks hot his start–Bosom Buddies?? (Not saying shows were GOOD. Lol!) Man, TV was so much more ‘wholesome’!

  22. ThomT says:

    Wondering if this will include the original programming previously offered by Showtime (which is owned by CBS). Been trying for years to find a legal source for the sit-com “Brothers” which ran for 5 seasons (1984-89) on Showtime (it was cable TVs first original sit-com having been turned down by both NBC & ABC as too controversial).

  23. TONY says:

    Retro networks are an excuse to recycle old TV programming and make a fast buck.
    Introducing a whole new generation of past glory to exploit original ideas created decades ago…

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