Indianapolis’ WISH to join the CW

Soon-to-be former CBS affiliate WISH-TV will have a new network affiliation at the first of the new year – with The CW.

The Media General-owned station announced Monday it was joining the upstart young skewing network, months after it lost its longtime CBS affiliation to WTTV, ending a relationship dating back to 1956.

Created by the merger between The WB and UPN nine years ago, CW finally has hit its stride with critically-acclaimed series The Flash, Jane the Virgin, and Arrow. WTTV had been the market’s CW affiliate, and was also affiliated with UPN and then The WB. Originally, WTTV was to move CW programming to a 4.2 channel (WTTV is on 4.1), but those plans did not pan out (there were reports Tribune“sold” the CW affiliation to WISH – an unprecedented move as on record, no network affiliation has ever been “bought” by someone else.)

Other CW programming WISH is airing includes the weekday afternoon strip The Bill Cunningham Show and a three-hour E/I Saturday morning block from Litton Entertainment.

WISH is also expanding its newscasts and acquired additional syndicated product to replace the hours of CBS programming it is losing. Joining WISH are game shows Family Feud and Millionaire, and talk shows The Real and Wendy Williams.

The station is also adding newscasts from 7-9 a.m., at 6:30 p.m., and at 10 p.m.

WISH is hoping to duplicate the same kind of success CW affiliates have had in the top three markets expanding their newscasts to early fringe and other dayparts. Ironically, those three – WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles,  and WGN here in Chicago,  are owned by Tribune Media, which happens to own the station that stripped away WISH’s CBS affiliation.

Speaking of WTTV, the new CBS affiliate is getting ready for the big switch January 1, including launching a news operation (separate from what sister station WXIN has) and likely getting a Colts playoff game (if it doesn’t land on ESPN.)  The station produced a short promo piece about the switch you can view here.

The last Indianapolis affiliate switch took place in 1979, when then-NBC affiliate WRTV stripped the ABC affiliation away from WTHR, which then joined the peacock network.