High-definition television (HDTV) in the United States was introduced in 1998 and has since become increasingly popular and dominant in the television market. Hundreds of HD channels are available in millions of homes and businesses both terrestrially and via subscription services such as satellite, cable and IPTV. HDTV has quickly become the standard, with about 85% of all TVs used being HD as of 2018. In the US, the 720p and 1080i formats are used for linear channels, while 1080p is available on a limited basis, mainly for pay-per-view and video on demand content.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began soliciting proposals for a new television standard for the U.S. in the late 1980s and later decided to ask companies competing to create the standard to pool their resources and work together, forming what was known as the Grand Alliance in 1993.
On July 23, 1996, WRAL-TV (then the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina; now affiliated with NBC) became the first television station in the United States to broadcast a digital television signal.
HDTV sets became available in the U.S. in 1998 and broadcasts began around November 1998. The first public HDTV broadcast was of the launch of the space shuttle Discovery and John Glenn's return to space; that broadcast was made possible in part by the Harris Corporation. The first commercial broadcast of a local sporting event in HD was during Major League Baseball's Opening Day on March 31, 1998, the Texas Rangers against the Chicago White Sox from The Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, TX. The telecast was produced by LIN Productions, and overseen by LIN Productions president and Texas Rangers television executive producer Lee Spieckerman. The game was also the inaugural telecast on the digital channel of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas NBC affiliate KXAS channel 5. The historic event was simultaneously shown via satellite at a reception attended by members of congress, the FCC and other luminaries in Washington, DC. This telecast was also the first commercial HD broadcast in the state of Texas. The first major sporting event broadcast nationwide in HD was Super Bowl XXXIV on January 30, 2000. By the 2014–15 season every network show producing new episodes had transitioned to high definition.
Satellite television companies in the United States, such as Dish Network and DirecTV, started to carry HD programming in 2002. Satellite transmissions in the U.S. use various forms of PSK modulation. A separate tuner is required to receive HD satellite broadcasts.
Cable television companies in the U.S. generally prefer to use 256-QAM to transmit HDTV. Many of the newer HDTVs with integrated digital tuners include support for decoding 256-QAM in addition to 8VSB for OTA digital. Cable television companies started carrying HDTV in 2003.
Currently, HD programming is carried by all major television networks in nearly all DMAs, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, The CW, MyNetworkTV and Telemundo; and on many independent stations. All but a select few of cable networks offer an HD broadcast to cable and satellite companies.
|Altitude||Sports - Regional|
|American Heroes Channel|
|AT&T SportsNet||720p||Sports – Regional|
|Azteca||Broadcast – Spanish||Broadcast|
|BBC World News||News|
|beIN Sports en Español||Sports – Spanish|
|Big Ten Network||720p||Sports - College|
|CBS Sports Network||Sports||Cable|
|Cinemax (MoreMax, ActionMax, ThrillerMax, 5starMax, MovieMax, OuterMax, MaxLatino)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|Crime & Investigation Network||720p||Entertainment|
|El Rey Network||Spanish|
|Epix (Epix 2, Epix Hits)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|ESPN Deportes||Sports – Spanish|
|ESPN Goal Line/Buzz Beater/Bases Loaded||Sports|
|Fox Business Network||News||Cable|
|Fox Deportes||Sports – Spanish|
|Fox News Channel||News|
|Fox Soccer Plus|
|Fox Sports Networks (All Networks)||Sports – Regional|
|Gol TV||Sports – Spanish|
|Great American Country||Music|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||Movies|
|HBO (HBO2, HBO Comedy, HBO Family, HBO Latino, HBO Signature, HBO Zone)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|MASN (MASN2)||Sports – Regional|
|Mega TV||Broadcast – Spanish|
|Midco SN||Sports – Regional||Cable|
|The Movie Channel (The Movie Channel Xtra)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|MoviePlex (IndiePlex, RetroPlex)|
|MSG (MSG Plus, MSG Western New York)||Sports – Regional||Cable|
|Nat Geo Wild||Lifestyle||Cable|
|NBC Sports Regional Networks||Sports – Regional||Cable|
|NESN||Sports – Regional|
|Nick at Nite||Family|
|One America News Network||News|
|Pac-12 Network||Sports – College|
|SEC Network||720p||Sports - College|
|Showtime (Showtime 2, Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next, Showtime Women)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|SNY||Sports – Regional|
|Sony Movie Channel||Movies|
|Spectrum SportsNet LA||Sports – Regional|
|Starz (Starz Comedy, Starz Edge, Starz Kids and Family, Starz InBlack, Starz Cinema)||Premium Movies||Premium|
|Starz Encore (Starz Encore, Starz Encore Action, Starz Encore Black, Starz Encore Classic, Starz Encore Suspense)|
|Telemundo||Broadcast – Spanish||Broadcast|
|UniMás||Broadcast – Spanish||Broadcast|
|Univision||Broadcast – Spanish||Broadcast|
|Univision Deportes||Sports – Spanish||Cable|
|The Weather Channel||News|
|World Fishing Network||Sports|
|YES||Sports – Regional|
1080i (also known as Full HD or BT.709) is an abbreviation referring to a combination of frame resolution and scan type, used in high-definition television (HDTV) and high-definition video. The number "1080" refers to the number of horizontal lines on the screen. The "i" is an abbreviation for "interlaced"; this indicates that only the odd lines, then the even lines of each frame (each image called a video field) are drawn alternately, so that only half the number of actual image frames are used to produce video. A related display resolution is 1080p, which also has 1080 lines of resolution; the "p" refers to progressive scan, which indicates that the lines of resolution for each frame are "drawn" in on the screen sequence.
The term assumes a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9 (a rectangular TV that is wider than it is tall), so the 1080 lines of vertical resolution implies 1920 columns of horizontal resolution, or 1920 pixels × 1080 lines. A 1920 pixels × 1080 lines screen has a total of 2.1 megapixels (2.1 million pixels) and a temporal resolution of 50 or 60 interlaced fields per second. This format is used in the SMPTE 292M standard.
The choice of 1080 lines originates with Charles Poynton, who in the early 1990s pushed for "square pixels" to be used in HD video formats.ATSC tuner
An ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) tuner, often called an ATSC receiver or HDTV tuner is a type of television tuner that allows reception of digital television (DTV) television channels transmitted by television stations in North America, parts of Central America and South Korea that use ATSC standards. Such tuners may be integrated into a television set, VCR, digital video recorder (DVR), or set-top box that provides audio/video output connectors of various types.
Another type of television tuner is a digital television adapter (DTA) with an analog passthrough.Big Three television networks
The Big Three television networks are the three major traditional commercial broadcast television networks in the United States: the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), CBS (formerly known as the Columbia Broadcasting System) and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Until the 1980s, the Big Three networks dominated U.S. television.Cable television in the United States
Cable television first became available in the United States in 1948, with subscription services following in 1949. Data by SNL Kagan shows that as of 2006 about 58.4% of all American homes subscribe to basic cable television services. Most cable viewers in the U.S. reside in the suburbs and tend to be middle class; cable television is less common in low income, urban, and rural areas.According to reports released by the Federal Communications Commission, traditional cable television subscriptions in the US peaked around the year 2000, at 68.5 million total subscriptions. Since then, cable subscriptions have been in slow decline, dropping to 54.4 million subscribers by December 2013. Some telephone service providers have started offering television, reaching to 11.3 million video subscribers as of December 2013.Communications in the United States
The primary regulator of communications in the United States is the Federal Communications Commission. It closely regulates all of the industries mentioned below with the exception of newspapers and the Internet service provider industry.Digital television in the United States
See digital television for more technical details, or DTV transition in the United States for specific information related to the analog-to-digital switchoverIn the United States, digital television broadcasts, or DTV, can be received via cable, via internet, via satellite, or via digital terrestrial television - much like analog television broadcasts have been. Full-power analog television broadcasts, however, were required by U.S. federal law to cease by June 12, 2009. Low-power, Class A, and TV Translator stations are not currently required to cease analog broadcasts. Also by law, digital broadcasts - when transmitted as OTA signals - must conform to ATSC standards.; it is unclear whether satellite operators are free to use their own proprietary standards; and many standards exist for Internet television (most are proprietary).DirecTV
DirecTV is an American direct broadcast satellite service provider based in El Segundo, California and is a subsidiary of AT&T. Its satellite service, launched on June 17, 1994, transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States, Latin America, Americas and the Caribbean. Its primary competitors are Dish Network and cable television providers. On July 24, 2015, after receiving approval from the United States Federal Communications Commission and United States Department of Justice, AT&T acquired DirecTV in a transaction valued at $67.1 billion.As of Q1 2017, DirecTV U.S. had 21 million subscribers (26 million if combined with U-verse) and revenues of $12 billion.
On November 30, 2016, DirecTV Now, their internet streaming TV service, was launched.List of United States pay television channels
The following is a list of pay television networks broadcasting or receivable in the United States, organized by genre. Some television providers use one or more channel slots for video on demand.List of United States television markets
This is a list of television media markets in the United States, with a total of 110,244,650 households. Network owned-and-operated stations are highlighted in bold.List of United States terrestrial television networks
In the United States, for most of the history of broadcasting, there were only three or four major commercial national terrestrial networks. From 1946 to 1956, these were ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont (though the Paramount Television Network had some limited success during these years). From 1956 to 1986, the "Big Three" national commercial networks were ABC, CBS, and NBC (with a few limited attempts to challenge them, such as National Telefilm Associates [and its NTA Film Network] and the Overmyer Network). From 1954 to 1970, National Educational Television was the national clearinghouse for public TV programming; the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) succeeded it in 1970.
Today, more than fifty national free-to-air networks exist. Other than the non-commercial educational (NCE) PBS, which is composed of member stations, the largest terrestrial television networks are the traditional Big Three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). Many other large networks exist, however, notably Fox and The CW which air original programming for two hours each night instead of three like the original "Big Three" do, as well as syndication services like MyNetworkTV and Ion Television which feature reruns of recent popular shows with little to no original programming. Fox has just about the same household reach percentage as the Big Three, and is therefore often considered a peer to ABC, NBC, and CBS since it has also achieved equal or better ratings since the late 1990s. Most media outlets now include Fox in what they refer to as the "Big Four" TV networks.
The transition to digital broadcasting in 2009 has allowed for television stations to offer additional programming options through digital subchannels, one or more supplementary programming streams to the station's primary channel that are achieved through multiplexing of a station's signal. A number of new commercial networks airing specialty programming such as movies, reruns of classic series and lifestyle programs have been created from companies like Weigel Broadcasting, Luken Communications and even owners of the major networks such as Fox Corporation, National Amusements (through the CBS Corporation subsidiary), The Walt Disney Company (through the Walt Disney Television subsidiary) and Comcast (through the NBCUniversal subsidiary). Through the use of multicasting, there have also been a number of new Spanish-language and non-commercial public TV networks that have launched.
Free-to-air networks in the U.S. can be divided into four categories:
Commercial networks – which air English-language programming to a general audience (for example, CBS);
Spanish-language networks – fully programmed networks which air Spanish-language programming to a primarily Latin American audience (for example, Telemundo and Univision);
Educational and other non-commercial broadcast networks – which air English- and some foreign-language television programming, intended to be educational in nature or otherwise of a sort not found on commercial television (for example, PBS);
Religious broadcast networks – which air religious study and other faith-based programs, and in some cases, family-oriented secular programs (for example, Daystar).Each network sends its signal to many local affiliate television stations across the country. These local stations then air the "network feed," with programs broadcast by each network being viewed by up to tens of millions of households across the country. In the case of the largest networks, the signal is sent to over 200 stations. In the case of the smallest networks, the signal may be sent to just a dozen or fewer stations.
As of the 2016–17 television season, there are an estimated 118.4 million households in the U.S. with at least one TV set.Lists of television stations in the United States
The pages below contain lists of television stations in the U.S. by call sign.
Historically, stations to the east of the Mississippi River were given call signs beginning with the letter W, stations to the west K. However, there are exceptions. See the article on North American call signs for more information.
List of television stations in the United States by call sign (initial letter K)
List of television stations in the United States by call sign (initial letter W)Satellite television in the United States
Currently, there are two primary satellite television providers of subscription based service available to United States consumers: DirecTV and Dish Network, which have 21 and 14 million subscribers respectively.Television in the United States
Television is one of the major mass media of the United States. As of 2011, household ownership of television sets in the country is 96.7%, with approximately 114,200,000 American households owning at least one television set as of August 2013. The majority of households have more than one set. The peak ownership percentage of households with at least one television set occurred during the 1996–97 season, with 98.4% ownership.As a whole, the television networks that broadcast in the United States are the largest and most distributed in the world, and programs produced specifically for U.S.-based networks are the most widely syndicated internationally. Due to a recent surge in the number and popularity of critically acclaimed television series during the 2000s and the 2010s to date, many critics have said that American television is currently undergoing a modern golden age.Television news in the United States
Television news in the United States has evolved over many years. It has gone from a simple 10- to 15-minute format in the evenings, to a variety of programs and channels. Today, viewers can watch local, regional and national news programming, in many different ways, any time of the day.United States cable news
Cable news channels are television channels devoted to television news broadcasts, with the name deriving from the proliferation of such networks during the 1980s with the advent of cable television. In the United States, early networks included CNN in 1980, Financial News Network (FNN) in 1981 and CNN2 (now HLN) in 1982. CNBC was created in 1989, taking control of FNN in 1991. Through the 1990s and beyond, the cable news industry continued to grow, with the establishment of several other networks, including, Fox News Channel (FNC), MSNBC, and specialty channels such as Bloomberg Television, Fox Business Network, and ESPN News. More recent additions to the cable news business have been CBSN, Newsmax TV, TheBlaze, Fusion, One America News Network, part-time news network RFD-TV, and—for a time—Al Jazeera America.
As some of the most highly available channels, FNC, CNN, and MSNBC are sometimes referred to as the "big three" with Fox News having the highest viewership and ratings. While the networks are usually referred to as 24-hour news networks, reruns of news programs and analysis or opinion programming are played throughout the night, with the exception of breaking news.
Regional 24-hour cable news television channels that are primarily concerned with local programming and cover some statewide interest have included Spectrum News (a brand used for multiple networks including in upstate New York, North Carolina, Florida and Texas), NY1 (which operates from New York City), News 12 Networks, FiOS1, and the former Northwest Cable News (NWCN) (which operated from Seattle). New England Cable News covers the six-state region of New England.
High-definition television broadcasting by country
in order of deployment
Digital television in North America
|Stations and networks|
|Awards and events|