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There are two interesting things going on with CBS digital right now that’ve raised my eyebrows.  First, they are developing a digital channel, DECADES, that will make use of the considerable CBS library as well as vesting their room on the digital spectrum.  I am especially excited because CBS-2.2 in NYC currently displays only traffic and weather at the moment so this is a huge upgrade.  There are other channels in NYC that use this space for similar properties – 4.2 (Cozi TV) has shows like Magnum PI, I Dream of Jeannie, Charlie’s Angels and Dick Van Dyke and 5.2 (MOVIES) features a lot of Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn.  So CBS isn’t inventing the game, but can certainly contribute a considerable amount.  (View the full press release for DECADES below.)

So it’s not “digital” as in the sense it generally is used here, but the next one is…

CBS has debuted “CBS ALL ACCESS.”  I appreciate the opportunity to watch both current and past programming but the price is pretty steep at $5.99/month plus tax for a standalone network.  It is probably a great use of the properties they are also using on Decades, but I have to mourn the loss of Aereo here, which would have made this and other channel’s live programming available for $10/month.

It is certainly a very interesting time for the expansion of digital television in all directions!

Screenshot of website cbs.com showing CBS ALL ACCESS trial button and characters from their shows as vector graphics

CBS TELEVISION STATIONS AND WEIGEL BROADCASTING UNVEIL PLANS FOR “DECADES,” THE ULTIMATE TV TIME CAPSULE, FOR NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION ACROSS LOCAL STATIONS’ DIGITAL SUBCHANNELS

“Decades” to Feature Vast Library of More Than 100 Television Series, Plus Theatrical and Made-For-Television Movies.

Original Programming to Include “Decades Retrospectical,” A Daily Topical Show That Will Offer Viewers an Opportunity to Relive, Remember & Relate To Historic Events with Footage From the CBS News and “Entertainment Tonight” Archives

CBS-Owned Television Stations to Serve as Launch Group

NEW YORK and CHICAGO – The CBS Television Stations group, a division of CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS), and Weigel Broadcasting today announced plans to launch DECADES, a new national entertainment programming service for distribution across local television stations’ digital subchannels – broadcast channels that utilize a local station’s available spectrum to provide a companion to that station’s primary channel. For example, in the New York market, WCBS-TV will continue to be available digitally as Channel 2.1 and DECADES will be available as Channel 2.2. In addition to being available as an over-the-air broadcast channel, DECADES will appear on numerous local cable systems and other multichannel video programming distribution services along with the stations’ primary channels.

Utilizing a library of more than 100 classic television series, including select titles from the CBS library such as I LOVE LUCY from the 1950s, STAR TREK from the 1960s, HAPPY DAYS from the 1970s and CHEERS from the 1980s, as well as a wide selection of theatrical and made-for-television movies and footage of historical news events from the archives of CBS News and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, DECADES will provide viewers with a new way to experience our shared historical and cultural past.

As the ultimate TV Time Machine, DECADES will differentiate itself from other subchannel programming services by varying the classic series and movies that appear on the network every day.

“DECADES is the most ambitious and creative subchannel programming service that has ever been created,” said Peter Dunn, President, CBS Television Stations. “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.”

“DECADES takes the digital broadcast network platform to a new level. Viewers will ‘Relive, Remember & Relate’ to the events that touched their lives and generations past. The events, themes and programming possibilities are endless. We are truly honored to be chosen as the company to develop the CBS Television Stations’ diginet product, and look forward to the launch of DECADES next year,” stated Norman H. Shapiro, President of Weigel.

DECADES will take viewers into a daily time capsule presentation of entertainment, popular culture and news. The service will feature DECADES RETROSPECTICAL, a daily one-hour program that will be produced around the news events and cultural touchstones of a specific day, week or other time frame or theme. The TV series and movies presented each day will reflect that day’s theme or commemorative event.

For example, DECADES will look back at classic series such as HAPPY DAYS and its “jump the shark” episode, explain its historical significance and then broadcast that episode. Viewers will also be taken back in time to rediscover events that shaped our world, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, the Beatles’ U.S. debut on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW and the birth of software and technology companies like Microsoft and Apple. DECADES will connect these events to what people were watching on television, seeing at the movies and experiencing as a nation.

DECADES is expected to debut during the second quarter of 2015, with the 16 CBS-owned stations that are part of the CBS Television Network serving as the new service’s launch group. This includes the CBS stations serving New York City (WCBS), Los Angeles (KCBS), Chicago (WBBM), Philadelphia (KYW), Dallas (KTVT), San Francisco (KPIX), Boston (WBZ), Detroit (WWJ), Minneapolis-St. Paul (WCCO and its satellite stations KCCO and KCCW), Miami (WFOR), Denver (KCNC), Sacramento (KOVR), Pittsburgh (KDKA) and Baltimore (WJZ).

Weigel will be responsible for securing affiliation agreements with other stations across the country.

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