Superstation

superstationscable superstationsvia satellite
Superstation (alternatively rendered as "super station" or informally as "SuperStation") is a term in North American broadcasting that has several meanings.wikipedia
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Independent station (North America)

independent stationIndependentindependent stations
Although six American television stations—none of which have widespread national distribution beyond home satellite or regional cable coverage—still are designated under this classification, these stations were primarily popularized between the late 1970s and the 1990s, in large part because of their carriage of sporting events from local professional sports franchises and theatrical feature films, offerings that were common of the time among independent stations that composed the superstation concept.
As cable television franchises began to be incorporated around the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, independent stations from large and mid-sized markets were imported by these systems via wire or microwave relay to smaller media markets, which often only had stations that were affiliated with the Big Three television networks (ABC, NBC and CBS); these independents became the first "superstations," which were distributed on a statewide or regional basis.

The CW

CWThe CW Television NetworkCW Network
While the FCC defines "superstation" as a term, it does not prohibit its use by others outside of that scope; for example, primary ABC/subchannel-only CW affiliate KYUR (channel 13) in Anchorage – which has a network of repeater stations in other parts of Alaska – had collectively branded its main station and repeaters as "The Alaska SuperStation" from 1996 to 2011.
It is also available in Canada on pay television providers through stations owned-and-operated by CBS Corporation and affiliates that are located within proximity to the Canada–United States border (whose broadcasts of CW shows are subject to simultaneous substitution laws imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, if a Canadian network holds the broadcast rights); it is also available through two affiliates that are classified in the United States as superstations – New York City affiliate WPIX and Los Angeles affiliate KTLA.

Univision

Univisiónunivision.comUNI
Some Spanish language networks like Telemundo and Univision may only have one station within an entire state that serves the largest city in their market and is distributed statewide via cable; one such case is Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD (channel 63) in Milwaukee, which maintains cable distribution throughout Wisconsin via Charter Spectrum, along with extended coverage on low-power stations in Rockford, Illinois, and South Bend, Indiana, providing it broad coverage resembling a regional superstation though not marketing itself as such.
On July 4, 1976, the network began distributing its national feed via satellite, which originally was delivered as a superstation-type feed of San Antonio's KWEX-TV, before eventually switching to a direct programming feed of SIN, allowing cable television providers to carry the network on their systems at little cost.

Ted Turner

Turner FoundationRobert E. "Ted" Turner IIIR.E. "Ted" Turner
By way of the microwave connections, Robert E. "Ted" Turner began allowing the signal of Atlanta, Georgia independent station WTCG (channel 17, later renamed WTBS and now WPCH-TV) – which he purchased from station founder and fellow Atlanta-based entrepreneur Jack Rice Jr. in December 1969 in a $3-million all-stock transaction – to be distributed into other parts of the Southeastern United States (including Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina).
In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television, which later became TBS.

WWOR-TV

WOR-TVWWORWOR
In 1962, Oneonta, New York-based Eastern Microwave Inc. (EMI) – a company that was developed after a technician employed with the parent CATV system observed the operations of Montana-based microwave-to-CATV firm Western Microwave – was founded to relay the signals of WPIX, WNEW and WOR-TV (channel 9, now MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WWOR-TV and licensed to Secaucus, New Jersey) to Oneonta Video and other CATV systems in surrounding areas.
WWOR is available to Dish Network subscribers as part of the satellite provider's superstations package (available to grandfathered subscribers that purchased the À la carte tier before Dish halted sales of the package to new customers in September 2013), except in markets where the local MyNetworkTV affiliate invokes syndication exclusivity to block access to WWOR's programming within the market.

WGN-TV

WGNWGN 9K32MF-D
Other microwave firms were also developed to relay independent television stations to cable systems, including H&B Microwave (a subsidiary of H&B Communications Corp., a major provider of CATV service and microwave relays throughout the U.S.), which began retransmitting the signal of WGN-TV (channel 9) in Chicago to subscribers of the Dubuque TV-FM Cable Company in Dubuque, Iowa; WGN's signal soon began to be imported via microwave to other CATV systems throughout the Midwest.
Like concept progenitor WTBS in Atlanta, WGN-TV—which, alongside WGN radio and CLTV, was among the flagship broadcasting properties of Tribune Media (formerly known as the Tribune Company until August 2014) until the company's purchase by Nexstar was completed in September 2019—was a pioneering superstation; on November 8, 1978, it became the second U.S. television station to be made available via satellite transmission to cable and direct-broadcast satellite subscribers nationwide.

WPCH-TV

WTBSWTCGPeachtree TV
By way of the microwave connections, Robert E. "Ted" Turner began allowing the signal of Atlanta, Georgia independent station WTCG (channel 17, later renamed WTBS and now WPCH-TV) – which he purchased from station founder and fellow Atlanta-based entrepreneur Jack Rice Jr. in December 1969 in a $3-million all-stock transaction – to be distributed into other parts of the Southeastern United States (including Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina).
During its ownership under the Turner Broadcasting System (which owned the station from April 1970 until February 2017), WPCH-TV—then using the WTCG call letters—pioneered the distribution of broadcast television stations retransmitted by communications satellite to cable and satellite subscribers throughout the United States, expanding the small independent station into the first national "superstation" on December 17, 1976.

HBO

Home Box OfficeHBO.comHBO Family
(Jack Matranga, then the president of KTXL [channel 40, now a Fox affiliate] also unveiled similar plans for his Sacramento, California independent, which were never formulated to fruition.) Turner formulated the idea upon hearing of premium cable service Home Box Office (HBO)'s groundbreaking innovation to retransmit its programming nationwide utilizing communications satellites beginning with its September 30, 1975 telecast of the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match.
By 1977, Ted Turner's Atlanta superstation WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS) and Pat Robertson's CBN Satellite Service (later to become the present-day Freeform) had joined it, pioneering satellite delivery for the cable television industry.

KIAH

KHTVKHTV 39KIAH-TV
Gaylord Broadcasting began allowing its independents—WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate) in Lorain–Cleveland, WVTV (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) in Milwaukee, KSTW (channel 11, now a CW owned-and-operated station) in Tacoma–Seattle, KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) in Fort Worth–Dallas and KHTV (channel 39, now CW affiliate KIAH) in Houston—to be distributed to cable systems in their respective regions, as did the Christian Broadcasting Network's Continental Broadcasting Network unit for two of its religious-secular hybrid independents, WYAH-TV (channel 27, now CW affiliate WGNT) in Virginia Beach and KXTX-TV (channel 39, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station) in Dallas–Fort Worth.
During this time, KHTV was distributed to cable providers as a regional superstation of sorts, with carriage on systems as far east as Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

KTVT

KTVT-TVKTVT 11KTVT Tower
Gaylord Broadcasting began allowing its independents—WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate) in Lorain–Cleveland, WVTV (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) in Milwaukee, KSTW (channel 11, now a CW owned-and-operated station) in Tacoma–Seattle, KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) in Fort Worth–Dallas and KHTV (channel 39, now CW affiliate KIAH) in Houston—to be distributed to cable systems in their respective regions, as did the Christian Broadcasting Network's Continental Broadcasting Network unit for two of its religious-secular hybrid independents, WYAH-TV (channel 27, now CW affiliate WGNT) in Virginia Beach and KXTX-TV (channel 39, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station) in Dallas–Fort Worth.
This attained it a new status as a superstation along the lines of WTBS (now WPCH-TV) in Atlanta, WGN-TV in Chicago and WOR-TV in New York City (now MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WWOR-TV and licensed to Secaucus, New Jersey); its signal was transmitted to about 400 cable systems and to C-band satellite subscribers across the country, mainly in the Southwestern U.S. At its height, the station was available on nearly every cable provider in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as large swaths of Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Pay television

pay TVpay-TVsubscription television
(Jack Matranga, then the president of KTXL [channel 40, now a Fox affiliate] also unveiled similar plans for his Sacramento, California independent, which were never formulated to fruition.) Turner formulated the idea upon hearing of premium cable service Home Box Office (HBO)'s groundbreaking innovation to retransmit its programming nationwide utilizing communications satellites beginning with its September 30, 1975 telecast of the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match.
Unlike other cable networks, premium services are almost always subscribed to a la carte, meaning that one can, for example, subscribe to HBO without subscribing to Showtime (in Canada, there are slight modifications, as most providers include U.S. superstations – such as WGN-TV and KTLA – with their main premium package by default).

WUAB

WUAB 43WUAB-TVtwo stations
Gaylord Broadcasting began allowing its independents—WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate) in Lorain–Cleveland, WVTV (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) in Milwaukee, KSTW (channel 11, now a CW owned-and-operated station) in Tacoma–Seattle, KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) in Fort Worth–Dallas and KHTV (channel 39, now CW affiliate KIAH) in Houston—to be distributed to cable systems in their respective regions, as did the Christian Broadcasting Network's Continental Broadcasting Network unit for two of its religious-secular hybrid independents, WYAH-TV (channel 27, now CW affiliate WGNT) in Virginia Beach and KXTX-TV (channel 39, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station) in Dallas–Fort Worth.
During this time as part of Gaylord's strategy of establishing regional superstations, it appeared on several cable systems in Ohio, as well as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and the western part of the Canadian province of Ontario.

KTLA

KTLA-TVKTLA 5Golden West Broadcasters
On February 15, 1988, Eastern Microwave Inc. began distributing WSBK-TV and KTLA (channel 5) in Los Angeles via the Satcom I-R satellite.
Although not as widespread in national carriage as its Chicago sister station WGN-TV, KTLA is available as a superstation throughout North America via DirecTV and Dish Network (the latter service available only to grandfathered subscribers that had purchased its a la carte superstation tier before Dish halted sales of the package to new subscribers in September 2013), as well as on cable providers in select cities within the southwestern United States and throughout Canada.

KTXL

KTXL-TVKTXL 40KCCC
(Jack Matranga, then the president of KTXL [channel 40, now a Fox affiliate] also unveiled similar plans for his Sacramento, California independent, which were never formulated to fruition.) Turner formulated the idea upon hearing of premium cable service Home Box Office (HBO)'s groundbreaking innovation to retransmit its programming nationwide utilizing communications satellites beginning with its September 30, 1975 telecast of the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match.
It also attained regional superstation status via microwave relay to nearly every cable system in northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Fresno, as well as several cable systems in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana.

WVTV

WVTV 18WVTV-TVWOKY-TV
Gaylord Broadcasting began allowing its independents—WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate) in Lorain–Cleveland, WVTV (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) in Milwaukee, KSTW (channel 11, now a CW owned-and-operated station) in Tacoma–Seattle, KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) in Fort Worth–Dallas and KHTV (channel 39, now CW affiliate KIAH) in Houston—to be distributed to cable systems in their respective regions, as did the Christian Broadcasting Network's Continental Broadcasting Network unit for two of its religious-secular hybrid independents, WYAH-TV (channel 27, now CW affiliate WGNT) in Virginia Beach and KXTX-TV (channel 39, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station) in Dallas–Fort Worth.
As cable television became more popular, WVTV became a regional superstation in the mold of sister stations KTVT in Fort Worth, KHTV (now KIAH) in Houston and KSTW in Tacoma.

KWGN-TV

KWGNKWGN 2KFEL-TV
(United Video would later relocate KTVT's transponder to the Spacenet III in December 1988.) On October 24, 1987, Netlink—then a subsidiary of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI)—began distributing KWGN-TV (channel 2, now a CW affiliate) over Satcom I as part of the company's "Denver 5" direct-to-home package of television stations from Colorado's state capital that also included five default network feeds for home dish subscribers without access to a local network affiliate: NBC owned-and-operated station KCNC-TV (channel 4, now a CBS owned-and-operated station), ABC affiliate KUSA-TV (channel 9, now an NBC affiliate), CBS affiliate KMGH-TV (channel 7, now an ABC affiliate), PBS station KRMA-TV (channel 6) and Fox affiliate KDVR (channel 31).
KWGN is also available to subscribers of satellite provider Dish Network throughout the United States as part of its superstations package (for grandfathered subscribers that purchased the a la carte tier before Dish halted sales of the package to new subscribers in September 2013), and is carried on cable television providers in parts of the western United States.

Atlanta Braves

Milwaukee BravesBravesAtlanta
Cable systems found WTCG—one of the few American television stations offering a 24-hour-a-day programming schedule at the time—an attractive offering as it had an extensive film library heavily reliant on classic feature films (amounting to 30 movies per week out of the 2,700 titles that Turner had accrued since taking over the station), high-profile syndicated programs and games from various Atlanta-area sports teams (including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and the Atlanta Flames of the NHL, all of which were owned by Turner).
In 1976, the team was purchased by media magnate Ted Turner, owner of superstation WTBS, as a means to keep the team (and one of his main programming staples) in Atlanta.

KSTW

KSTW-TVKTNT-TVKSTW 11
Gaylord Broadcasting began allowing its independents—WUAB (channel 43, now a CW affiliate) in Lorain–Cleveland, WVTV (channel 18, now a CW affiliate) in Milwaukee, KSTW (channel 11, now a CW owned-and-operated station) in Tacoma–Seattle, KTVT (channel 11, now a CBS owned-and-operated station) in Fort Worth–Dallas and KHTV (channel 39, now CW affiliate KIAH) in Houston—to be distributed to cable systems in their respective regions, as did the Christian Broadcasting Network's Continental Broadcasting Network unit for two of its religious-secular hybrid independents, WYAH-TV (channel 27, now CW affiliate WGNT) in Virginia Beach and KXTX-TV (channel 39, now a Telemundo owned-and-operated station) in Dallas–Fort Worth.
Later in the decade, KSTW became a regional superstation.

Syndication exclusivity

syndexSyndication Exclusivity Rights Ruleexclusivity
Among the implemented rules was the original incarnation of the Syndication Exclusivity Rules (or "SyndEx"), which required cable providers to black out any syndicated programs carried on out-of-market stations if a television station exclusively holds the local broadcast rights to a particular program, even if the out-of-market station has the same owner as the program's claimant station.
As a result, any airings of the same program on cable networks and, more commonly, superstations must be blocked by the local cable provider upon request from the local station.

Bozo the Clown

BozoBozo's Big TopBozo's Circus
The station quickly turned into a major commodity among cable systems because of WGN's telecasts of Chicago Cubs baseball and Chicago Bulls basketball games and its locally popular in-house children's programs like The Bozo Show (the Chicago iteration of the Bozo the Clown television franchise).
It also became the most widely known Bozo show as WGN-TV became a national cable television Superstation.

WYTU-LD

WFBN-LDTelemundo WisconsinWFBN
Some Spanish language networks like Telemundo and Univision may only have one station within an entire state that serves the largest city in their market and is distributed statewide via cable; one such case is Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD (channel 63) in Milwaukee, which maintains cable distribution throughout Wisconsin via Charter Spectrum, along with extended coverage on low-power stations in Rockford, Illinois, and South Bend, Indiana, providing it broad coverage resembling a regional superstation though not marketing itself as such.
WYTU-LD is also available via Spectrum's systems throughout their entire state service area as far west as La Crosse and as far north as Wausau and Rhinelander, making for a rare example of an intra-region superstation in the digital age.

WWOR EMI Service

superstation feedAdvance Entertainment Corporationcable feed
While United Video made efforts to clear as much of the programming seen on the WGN Chicago feed as it possibly could, EMI increasingly filled the national WWOR EMI Service feed with library content from the 1950s to the 1970s from Universal Television, MGM Television and Quinn Martin as well as select programs from the Christian Science Monitor television service, alongside shows on WWOR's local program schedule that it was able to acquire retransmission rights at the national level (including local newscasts, sports and other WWOR-produced programming as well as special events, the station's overnight simulcast of the Shop at Home Network and a limited number of syndicated shows that did not have exclusivity claims in any market).
WWOR EMI Service was a New York City-based American cable television channel that operated as a superstation feed of Secaucus, New Jersey-licensed WWOR-TV (channel 9).

WPIX

WPIX-TVPIX 11WPIX 11
WPIX is also available as a regional superstation via satellite and cable in the United States and Canada.

Tribune Media

Tribune CompanyTribuneTribune Co.
Some superstation operators (like Ted Turner and former Tribune Company vice president John Madigan) note a lack of corroborating evidence of any negative effects on game attendance and league revenue, suggesting that sports leagues have used superstation telecasts of their games as a scapegoat for financial problems incurred by the league caused by other factors such as the performance of certain teams and management issues.
It owned national basic cable channel/superstation WGN America, regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV) and Chicago radio station WGN.

TV Guide

TVGuide.comTV InsiderTV Guide Magazine
Even so, WGN would gradually switch to a more "active" stance in later years; Tribune began relaying the station's Chicago broadcast feed to United Video directly in 1985, and eventually acquired a majority stake in the rechristened TV Guide Inc.'s UVTV satellite unit in April 2001 as the company was spinning off its satellite carrier assets to focus on TV Guides magazine, direct-to-cable program listings and interactive program guide services.
Regional and national superstations available on cable systems in the designated market of many editions were the only cable channels listed initially as well as, in certain markets, over-the-air subscription services transmitted over local independent stations (such as ONTV); local subscription television services were often listed as "STV Programming" or "Subscription Television" for the channel carrying the service, with the service listed separately or, in some editions, not at all.