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NFL Network, Fox Sports 1 big winners in TWC realignment

 By Alan Pergament

Time Warner Cable made an announcement Monday that you read here four weeks ago -- it is revising its lineup in early December by putting channels in genres.

The genres include Entertainment, News & Info, Kids & Teens, Sports, Movies & Premium, Sports Packages, Latino, On Demand, Local Programming, International, Radio and TWC Info.

The idea behind it -- or at least one of them -- is to have all TWC systems consistent nationwide.

The realignment undoubtedly will lead to some short-term confusion and some complaints for awhile, but nothing on the scale of Obamacare.

Long term, it probably is a smart thing to do.

Thankfully, TWC isn’t messing with channels 99 and below, where the broadcast affiliates like WGRZ (Channel 2), WIVB (Channel 4), WKBW (Channel 7), WNED (Channel 17), WNLO (Channel 23) and WUTV (Channel 29) remain, along with other local stations in the market. And they will also switch to HD automatically for subscribers who pay for it. 

But there are some winners and losers in the realignment elsewhere. Here is my list from the tentative lineup sent to subscribers.

Winners:

WUTV: The local Fox affiliate is the only local channel on the 1200 tier of local programming that is similar to the one it has now in the 700 high definition tier. It will be on Channel 1206, which is similar to being on Channel 706 now. 

The Second Digital Channels of WGRZ and WUTV: They are on the 1200 tier, where they are easier to find than they have been.

The NFL Network: It is carried on Channel 1086 in high definition now, which pretty much leaves it all by itself. When the Bills played Cleveland on the NFL Network's Thursday night package, I had friends asking what channel it was on. In the new alignment, where all sports channels are together, it will be Channel 310, right next to NBA TV at 308 and close to the ESPNs in the 300 tier.

AMC: Even with such hits as "Mad Men,"” "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead," I frequently have to remind myself where the channel is located now. With the revision, AMC will be on Channel 105 on the Entertainment tier, right next to TBS at 104 and close to such popular cable channels as USA Network (101), A&E (102) and TNT (103). Those channels are getting double coverage, since they also remain where there are below 99 for analog customers. All the digital channels above 100 will be in high definition if subscribers are paying for it.

The Canadian Channels: They will remain on their regular analog channels below 100, and also be carried on  the Local Programming tier that starts with WKBW on Channel 1200.  CFTO, the CTV affiliate, is on Channel 12, and on Channel 1237 on the Local Programming tier. CBLT-TV, the CBC affiliate, is on Channel 16, and on Channel 1238. Unfortunately, they still won’t be in high definition, which upsets Hockey Night in Canada fans.

Fox Sports 1 and 2: I doubt many viewers know where Fox’s cable sports channels are now without going to the channel guide. But being on Channels 400 and 401 certainly will be easy to remember.

Adult Entertainment: Starting at channel 1800, there are 24 "adult" channels if you so desire to watch content that some cable subscribers used to protest being available.

Losers:

Network Affiliates:  Except for WUTV's Nick Magnini, all the managers of the local broadcast network affiliates have to be shaking their heads over the new alignment on the 1200 tier. WKBW, which is now on 707 on the high definition tier, is going to Channel 1200; WGRZ, which is on 702 now, will be 1203; WIVB, which is on 704 now, will be 1209; WNLO, which is on 711 now, will be 1212. I suspect it will mean most subscribers will find the channels on the below 100 analog tier, which will automatically switch to HD for subscribers who pay for it.

WNED-TV: The public television station, which is on 703 now, is moving away from the broadcast stations on the 1200 tier. It will be on Channel 1221, nine places from the nearest broadcast network affiliate. It is in a much better place now sandwiched between Channel 2 and Channel 4 on the 700 tier.

WBBZ-TV: The independent station is moving to 1230 on the 1200 tier, far away from the big boys. The closest local channel ahead of it is WNED at 1221. At least it remains on Channel 5 on the below 100 tier. 

FXX: Fox’s new cable entertainment channel is 144, one spot after the Military Channel and far away from big brother FX at 108.

Logic: Why are there no local channels between 1221 and 1230 and between 1250 and 1275? You wonder if there are technical reasons for those oddities because it makes about as much sense as putting WKBW (Channel 7) on Channel 1200 instead of 1207. Sure enough, a TWC spokeman said the spaces between the channels may eventually be filled by secondary digitial channels associated with the stations. 

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