Replaces Bounce as digital network heads to Ion’s WCPX
It’s not just an expansion – it’s now a boom.
Yet another new multicast network was announced with the launch of MeTVPlus from Weigel Broadcasting, scheduled to debut May 15.
As first reported by Robert Feder Monday, MeTV Plus features off-network dramas and sitcoms that hasn’t aired on MeTV in years, including the original versions of Mission: Impossible and Hawaii Five-O, and some new titles including Vega$, the 1978-81 drama featuring Robert Urich and Phyllis Davis.
MeTV Plus is also planning to run MeTV’s successful Toon In With Me at 11 p.m. weeknights, for those who are not able to watch every morning at 6 a.m. where it usually airs.
The new channel replaces Bounce, who is moving to a digital tier of Ion Media’s WCPX-TV. MeTV Plus is being slotted on over-the-air 26.5 and channel positions on Comcast, Mediacom, RCN, Spectrum, and Wow, positions Bounce currently occupies (MeTV is available on Dish and DirecTV, but it’s carrying the signal of low-power WWWE-CA, as both typically don’t carry digital subchannels.) Unless WCPX can secure cable carriage, Bounce would be off these systems entirely.
The change was expected as Ion parent Scripps is moving Katz’s multicast networks to channels it owns in order to reduce distribution costs as this was the main purpose of acquiring Ion last year for $2.65 billion. WCIU was a charter member of Bounce, who launched in 2011.
This isn’t the first time Weigel has launched a companion channel to MeTV. In 2008, Weigel launched a local spin-off channel called MeToo (over WMEU-CA), featuring off-network programming and briefly split the channels between dramas and comedies until MeTV went national in 2010. After losing the rights to several programming libraries, MeToo shuttered in 2014 when it became an affiliate of Heroes & Icons, an action-drama digital network Weigel launched.
The decision to brand the channel MeTV Plus and not MeToo is very obvious since the name has a completely different meaning now than it did in 2008.
Like the original national launch of MeTV, Me TV Plus is operating only in Chicago and in another market (Phoenix) for now. Weigel plans to add MeTV Plus to the digital tier of its owned stations in Milwaukee, St. Louis, and South Bend, among others in the months to come.
MeTV Plus is the latest in a flood of new digital network launches in the last year. Among those announced or have already launched include Fave TV (CBS); The Grio.TV (Allen Media Group); Defy (Scripps); TrueReal (Scripps, formerly Doozy); Twist (Tegna); and just last week Rewind TV (Nexstar.) Like MeTV Plus in some cases, these new multicast networks are replacing those on stations who lost a Katz/Scripps network to their local Ion affiliate.