Tribune Media’s effort to convert WGN America from a superstation into a basic cable channel is one of CEO Peter Liguori’s top priorities. And he just made some progress in a carriage deal with Cablevision, announced this morning.
The Long Island-based cable operator will make the switch in January for its 2.6 million video customers, mostly concentrated in the tri-state area around New York City. That will bring WGN’s basic cable audience to 76 million homes, about 80% of its footprint.
Per usual, the companies didn’t disclose financial terms or a specific time frame for what they describe as a “multi-year content and media agreement.” But it ensures that Cablevision also will continue to carry some of Tribune’s most popular stations: New York’s WPIX, Hartford’s WTIC and WCCT, and Philadelphia’s WPHL.
In addition, Cablevision renewed its agreement to use Tribune’s Gracenote TV listings and movie data service on its Optimum programming guides.
The companies butted heads three years ago in a dispute over retransmission terms, leading the Tribune stations to go dark on Cablevision. At the time the cable company complained that WPIX “carries syndicated shows that are largely available on other channels, and/or available online almost immediately after they appear on television.” Tribune said that Cablevision had “never compensated” it for retransmitting its local stations “which are among the most highly watched channels on Cablevision’s line-ups.”
But that’s all in the past, especially as WGN seeks to increase its original fare.
Tribune Broadcasting President of Distribution Dana Zimmer says “Cablevision is a tremendous distribution partner and we are looking forward to bringing WGN America’s new original dramas such as Underground and Outsiders and exclusive syndicated programming like Elementary and Person of Interest to new audiences in the nation’s No. 1 market.”
Cablevision EVP of Programming Tom Montemagno says he’s “pleased to extend our long-standing relationship with Tribune Media on both the programming and media side and look forward to providing more compelling content with the addition of WGN America in 2016.”