WGN America (formerly known as "Superstation WGN" or "WGN Superstation") is a Chicago-based American superstation for WGN-TV, owned by Tribune Broadcasting Company. WGN America offers it's national programming across North America without network programming. It's the only remaining national superstation after TBS became a regular cable channel on October 1, 2007 (although WGN is still not available in most New England cable services).
WGN America is available via satellite to DirecTV & Dish Network as well as cable in the United States as well as through some smaller Canadian cable companies; most Canadian viewers which previously received the previous Superstation WGN feed now receive the WGN-TV / Chicago feed. In the Chicago metropolitan area, WGN America is not available on cable or terrestrial digital but is available to DirecTV, Dish Network & U-verse viewers
Differences between Chicago & nationalEdit
In October 1978, United Video uplinked the signal of WGN-TV Ch. 9 / Chicago to the Satcom-3 satellite for cable & satellite subscribers nationwide. For over 11 years, the national program schedule was the exact same as Chicago's.
In 1989, a new law known as Syndication Exclusivity Rule, or "SyndEx", was passed. This law means that whenever a local station has the exclusive rights to air a syndicated program in their market, it must be blacked out on any out-of-town stations by the local cable company. On January 1 1990, a separate national feed of WGN-TV was launched to avoid any blackouts, save for some sports programming, similar to WWOR-TV's "WWOR EMI Service", only with fewer blackouts.
WGN America's national feed does not carry the WGN Morning News (it's claimed that the newscast was dropped in 1996 due to "SyndEx" rules on some segments) as well as the 11 AM-noon portion of the WGN Midday News & the 5 PM newscast (there is no known explanation as to why the 11 AM & 5 PM newscasts are not cleared on the superstation feed), but does air the Noon-1 PM portion of it's midday newscast as well as the 9 PM newscast (All Central Time or CST), along with the Illinois State Lottery & Mega Millions multi-state lottery drawings. But the nightly newscast is occasionally pre-empted on WGN America due to certain sporting games that air, or if a movie or special on WGN America runs long.
Other local programs carried on the local Chicago area feed that are also carried on the Superstation feed include the Saturday morning public affairs programs People to People, Adelante, Chicago & movies.
Another major programming difference between the national & Chicago area feeds is that WGN America does not carry CW Network programming (which does appear on WGN-TV / Chicago), as that network is available in most markets around the country. Superstation WGN did carry programming from the former WB Network nationwide (which Tribune had an ownership interest in) from the network's launch in 1995 until 1999, when local station coverage was deemed sufficient enough by Time Warner & Tribune to discontinue airing The WB on Superstation WGN. Moreover, some markets with Tribune-owned stations do not have WGN America on analog or digital cable. During this period, Superstation WGN also carried Kids' WB, which was carried only on the Superstation due to WGN's local morning newscast. (It was seen in Chicago @ the time on WCIU-TV)
WGN America airs all WGN Cubs & White Sox baseball games, as well as a select amount of Bulls basketball games. Due to NBA broadcast rights restrictions, most Bulls games contracted to air on WGN-TV are seen in the Chicago area only; WGN America airs movies & other syndicated programming instead. With former superstation TBS having moved it's national broadcasts of the Atlanta Braves to it's local Atlanta WPCH-TV feed in 2008, it leaves WGN as the only superstation broadcasting local sports to a national audience. WGN gained the over-the-air rights for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in 2008; as with most of the Bulls games, these are exclusive to WGN-TV.
On August 21th 2008, it was announced that radio hosts Bob & Tom would join the WGN America line-up on November 3th, 2008; the video simulcast of that show is produced for Tribune's Indianapolis sister operation WXIN/WTTV by B&T flagship station WFBQ. WGN America also simulcasts or airs on a delayed basis many Chicago-based programs produced by WGN's local department, such as local parades, event coverage, or retrospective shows on WGN's past.
On December 19th, 2008, WGN America confirmed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to show WWE Superstars as a 1-hour program every week, starting April 16th, 2009.
Change to WGN AmericaEdit
On May 24th 2008, Superstation WGN formally changed it's name to WGN America. Initially, it's use was limited to promos, as the Superstation WGN idents remained in use. The new name & logo went into fulltime use on the channel on Memorial Day May 26th, 2008. The channel would soon begin a slow change in it's programming lineup, starting with the Sunday night "Out of Sight Retro Night" block, featuring older programs such as WKRP in Cincinnati, Newhart & The Honeymooners, some of which aired on WGN prior to the syndex era, or even after the start of syndex on the Chicago signal only. A few shows, such as former WGN staples U.S. Farm Report & Soul Train, have been dropped, mostly due to the dissolution of Tribune's TV studio division. The transition process for a full rebranding is expected to take 12-18 months. In late July 2008, the network's logo bug was revised: the eyes element of the logo morphed into the words WGN America & have also remained a part of the general logo in all other uses until the beginning of 2009. From January to April 2009, the text of the WGN America logo bug became the main logo with the eyes element.
Tribune Chairman/CEO Sam Zell & CEO Randy Michaels have also stated to the media during a nationwide tour of Tribune properties that they would like to lure comedian Jay Leno into the Tribune fold as the host of a new late night program after the end of Leno's run as host of The Tonight Show on NBC in 2009, by launching it on Tribune stations & using WGN America as a lynchpin for the show. However in December 2008, NBC retained the rights to Leno by moving his show to 10:00 & creating The Jay Leno Show.
In April 2009, WGN America rebranded the channel, with a new logo, a new 5-note sounder equivalent to the NBC chimes (this same sounder is also in use on WGN Radio in Chicago), new graphics, a new slogan ("Everywhere America Calls Home") & new original programming. The channel did so to increase cable carriage outside the network's traditional carriage area & position itself as a general entertainment channel that programs to the entire nation, not just Chicago & the Midwest.
The network now relies primarily on a variety of re-runs & movies, such as I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, Seinfeld, Scrubs, 7th Heaven, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Cosby Show, In the Heat of the Night, Nash Bridges & Matlock. Other programs that the network features @ times are Coach, NewsRadio & occasionally American Dad. Films, which formed the majority of the station's primetime schedule until the Superstation WGN branding era, also continue to air on the network, but mostly in weekend time periods
Outta Sight Retro Night Edit
Outta Sight Retro Night is the Sunday night classic comedy block on WGN America. The following is the list of shows featured in the lineup:
- The Cosby Show
- Happy Days (starting again in 2010 replacing Bewitched)
- WKRP in Cincinnati
- Barney Miller
- I Dream of Jeannie
- The Beverly Hillbillies
This line up starts @ 5 PM EST, breaks away @ 10 PM EST for news & resumes from 11 PM-2 AM EST
WGN in CanadaEdit
On January 17 2007, many cable systems in Canada, as well as Star Choice (now Shaw Direct), switched to the WGN-TV / Chicago feed, duplicating The CW Network & many syndicated programs already available on other channels. This is a result of Shaw Broadcast Services (the main supplier of the WGN feed in Canada) switching to the local feed. It's believed that the switch was made to avoid fees required to carry Superstation WGN. WGN America continues to be carried on other cable systems in Canada (such as MTS TV), however Bell TV has been carrying the WGN-TV / Chicago feed for several years
WGN America HDEdit
WGN America HD is a 1080i HD simulcast of WGN America. It's available on AT&T U-verse, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS & other systems. Cubs & White Sox baseball, Bulls basketball, Chicago Blackhawks Hockey, WWE Superstars, WGN newscasts & most episodes of Corner Gas are in HD. WGN began broadcasting it's news in HD on July 19, 2008
- Chicago's Very Own (1983-present; used during WGN newscasts)
- Entertaining America (1997-2001)
- It's Great to Be Home (2005-2008)
- TV You Can't Ignore (2008-2009)
- Everywhere America Calls Home (2009-present)