With more than 400 stations having made the switch to fully digital last month, and the rest scheduled to do so in the coming months, multicasting is expected to grow exponentially, though few stations can report substantial ratings or revenue from these channels.
Multicast networks include the vintage program channel RTN, film channels This TV and .2, the Mexico-centric network Mexicanal, and channels like LATV and the new Hola TV that are geared toward young Hispanics. Raycom has signed up for This TV for more than a dozen of its stations. NBC O&Os and other stations air Universal Sports, and NBC is aiming to launch a 24/7 local news and lifestyle channel on WNBC New York's digital tier in the coming months.
Some general managers say they're considering a homegrown shopping channel modeled after eBay, while others say they'll hold off on a new channel to save bandwidth for future projects such as a mobile application. As stations make their digital programming choices, one thing is certain: The programs should have local appeal, including regional weather forecasts or sports coverage with close-to-home significance. —Michael Malone