A specialty channel can be a commercial broadcasting or non-commercial television channel which consists of television programming focused on a single genre, subject or targeted television market at a specific demographic.
The number of specialty channels has greatly increased during the 1990s and 2000s while the previously common model of countries having just a few (national) TV stations addressing all interest groups and demographics became increasingly outmoded, as it already had been for some time in several countries. About 65% of today's satellite channels are specialty channels.
Types of specialty services may include, but by no means are limited to:
(These categories are provided for convenience and do not necessarily represent industry-accepted or otherwise legally-binding names or categories for these types of services.)
Some specialty channels may not be free-to-air or may not be available through conventional broadcast television. Pay TV providers in particular often produce own specialty channels exclusively for their own network.
The term "specialty channel" has been used most frequently in Canada, having been used as a marketing term by the cable industry for various simultaneous launches of new channels throughout the 1990s. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) term for such a channel is specialty service (or even more explicitly "specialty television programming undertaking"), referring to virtually any non-premium television service which is not carried over the airwaves or otherwise deemed exempt by the CRTC. They are primarily carried, therefore, on cable television and satellite television.
All such services are specifically limited in regard to the types of programming that can be carried; unless they are specifically licensed as such, a specialty channel cannot devote more than a specific quota of content to live sports programming, and a service licensed as a mainstream sports network is restricted in their carriage of non-sport programming. The CRTC previously enforced stricter regulations on the types of programming that may be carried by specialty services, employing minimums and restrictions across specific genres on a per-licence basis, and a category system granting exclusive rights to specific categories of channels. These restrictions were imposed to discourage networks from deviating from the programming format which they were licensed to broadcast.
24Kitchen is a Dutch television specialty channel that airs both one-time and recurring (episodic) programs about food and cooking currently operated by Fox Networks Group Benelux (owned by The Walt Disney Company).BookTelevision
BookTelevision is a Canadian, English-language, Category A specialty channel that broadcasts programming relating to books, literature, and various media. It is owned by Bell Media.Canal D
Canal D is a Canadian French language Category A specialty channel owned by Bell Media. Canal D focuses on documentary programming primarily in the form of documentary-style television series that focus on a variety of topics such as crime, biographies, nature, and science.Canal Vie
Canal Vie is a Canadian French language Category A specialty channel owned by Bell Media. Canal Vie airs lifestyle and entertainment programs aimed at women in the form of talk shows, documentaries, reality TV series, and films. Programs focus on a variety of topics including home improvement, cooking, health, parenting, and relationships.Category A services
Category A services were a class of Canadian specialty television channel which, as defined by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, must be offered by all digital cable and direct broadcast satellite providers that have the capability to do so.
Category A services were an amalgamation of the former analog pay and specialty services licensed prior to digital television (with the exception of general interest national news and sports specialty services which are designated as Category C services) and the former category 1 digital specialty channels. In a policy decision released on October 30, 2008, the CRTC decided that all Category 1 digital services as well as all analog pay and specialty channels would be renamed Category A services, effective September 1, 2011.Category A services share a number of similar regulations, including that they must be offered by all television providers in Canada, and have higher Canadian content quota levels than Category B services. They were also previously protected by "genre protection" rules forbidding other specialty channels from directly competing with them, but the CRTC is in the process of phasing out these policies in favour of switching all specialty services to standardized licenses as discretionary services.Category B services
A Category B service is the former term for a Canadian discretionary specialty television channel which, as defined by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, may be carried by all digital cable television and direct broadcast satellite providers. Such services were called Category 2 until September 1, 2011.Unlike Category A services, Category B services are not protected as to format. They are licensed to broadcast within defined formats which are not provided by or overly close to an existing protected channel, but their formats are not protected themselves and need not protect other Category B services. Also unlike Category A services, a Category B service does not have guaranteed cable carriage rights, but must directly negotiate carriage with cable distributors. Category B services encompass both pay television and specialty channels.
In December 2012, the CRTC exempted from formal licensing services with less than 200,000 subscribers that would otherwise meet the definition of a Category B service, and services which air 90% of their programming in a language other than English, French, or languages of aboriginal peoples in Canada.Henceforth, most Canadian specialty channels (except for national news and mainstream sports channels, which are classified as Category C services) will be licensed as Category B services.Discovery Velocity
Discovery Velocity is a Canadian Category B specialty channel owned by CTV Specialty Television, a joint venture of Bell Media and Discovery Inc.. It is a Canadian version of the U.S. channel formerly of the same name (now known as Motor Trend), and broadcasts factual and reality-style series related to automobiles and transportation (including series from Discovery's library).Disney Junior (France)
Disney Junior is a children's specialty channel in France. The channel offers various programs for preschoolers and older children from Playhouse Disney and other sources. It launched as Playhouse Disney on November 2, 2002 and rebranded as Disney Junior on May 27, 2011.ESPN Classic (Canada)
ESPN Classic is a Canadian English language Category B specialty channel owned by CTV Speciality Television Inc. (Bell Media (80%) and ESPN (20%). ESPN Classic broadcasts a range of archive sports coverage, talk shows, documentaries and films.FX (Canada)
FX is a Canadian English-language Category B cable and satellite television specialty channel that is owned as a partnership between Rogers Media, a division of Rogers Communications (which owns a controlling 66.64% interest and serves as managing partner), and the FX Networks subsidiary of Walt Disney Television (which owns the remaining 33.36%). Based on the U.S. cable network of the same name, FX is devoted primarily to scripted dramas and comedies.List of programs broadcast by ABC Spark
This is a list of current and former television series broadcast by ABC Spark, a specialty channel based on the U.S. cable channel Freeform.
This list is current as of December 2018.List of programs broadcast by Global Reality Channel
This is a list of programs broadcast by Global Reality Channel, a defunct Canadian English language Category B specialty channel owned by Shaw Media. The channel broadcast reality television series and related programming.Makeful
Makeful is a Canadian English language Category B cable and satellite specialty channel that is owned by Blue Ant Media. The channel broadcasts lifestyle programming focusing on do-it-yourself projects such as food, design, style, and crafts in connection with maker culture, from which the channel takes its name.
The channel was first launched on March 5, 2005 and relaunched under its current name on August 24, 2015.RDS Info
RDS Info is a Canadian French language Category A digital cable 24-hour sports information specialty channel. It is owned by CTV Specialty Television Inc., a division of Bell Media (80%) and ESPN (20%).
The channel was launched on October 21, 2004 under the name Réseau Info-Sports (or RIS)On January 23, 2012, RIS launched a high definition feed and rebranded as "RDS Info".Shopping channel
Shopping channels (also known as teleshopping) are a type of television specialty channel devoted to home shopping. Their formats typically feature live presentations and demonstrations of products, hosted by on-air presenters and other spokespeople who provide a sales pitch for the product. Viewers are also instructed on how they can order the product. Shopping channels may focus primarily on mainstream merchandise, or more specialized categories such as high-end fashion and jewelry. The term can also apply to channels whose contents consist solely of infomercials.
The concept was first popularized in the United States in the 1980s, when Lowell "Bud" Paxson and Roy Speer launched a local cable channel known as the Home Shopping Club—which later launched nationally as the Home Shopping Network. It later gained competition from QVC, who would eventually acquire HSN in 2017. Home shopping channels originally relied on telephone ordering, but have since been required to emphasize online shopping as part of their business models in order to compete with online-only competitors (while distinguishing themselves with their use of on-air pitches and offers to entice potential customers).Sportsnet Ontario
Sportsnet Ontario (formerly known as CTV Sportsnet Ontario and Rogers Sportsnet Ontario) is a Canadian regional sports specialty channel owned by Rogers Communications serving most of all Ontario. It is one of four Sportsnet regional feeds.
It is the main television channel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and the Toronto Blue Jays (although the latter carried nationally).Sportsnet Pacific
Sportsnet Pacific is a Canadian regional sports specialty channel owned by Rogers Communications serving British Columbia and the Yukon territory. It is one of four Sportsnet regional feeds.
It is the main television channel of the Vancouver Canucks also aired on its companion channel, Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey and the Toronto Blue Jays, although the latter is carried nationally.Telelatino
Telelatino, also referred to as TLN, is a Canadian Category A Specialty channel broadcasting general interest programming from Canada and around the world, primarily in Italian and Spanish. It also broadcasts English programming up to 25 percent of the time.
TLN began broadcasting in October 1984 and is a privately held company owned by TLN Media Group, a consortium owned by three prominent Italian Canadian families, and network president Aldo Di Felice. Corus Entertainment previously owned a 50.5% majority share in Telelatino Network, but sold it to its existing partners and Di Felice for $19 million. Telelatino's headquarters are in Toronto, Ontario, but the company also operates an office in Montreal, Quebec.
Telelatino is available in almost six million Canadian homes and is carried by all major cable systems and satellite platforms. It is Canada's most watched ethnic specialty channel. TLN operates two time shifted feeds: East (Eastern Time) and West (Pacific Time), the latter is available via Bell Fibe TV and Rogers Cable in Ontario and New Brunswick.
The network broadcasts via the Anik F1-T25 at 107.3 degrees west, on the L-Band channel at 1221.75 MHz.Z (TV channel)
Z is a Canadian French language Category A specialty channel owned by Bell Media. Z focuses on programming primarily from the science fiction, fantasy, and technology genres consisting of dramas, films, and documentaries.