WFLA-Ch. 8 creates digital channel for original shows and golden oldies
With classic cable channels like TV Land chasing young viewers with original shows, WFLA-Ch. 8 may have picked a perfect time for its new venture: 8 Prime, a digital channel featuring original WFLA shows, rerun newscasts and series such as Leave it to Beaver, Knight Rider and Adam-12, courtesy of the Retro Television Network.
WFLA on Monday replaced the NBC Weather Plus forecasts that once aired on its secondary digital channel with shows from RTN -- turning it into a home for boomer-friendly series from the 1950s to the 1980s just as thousands of viewers are expected to begin watching digital channels after the nationwide switch to digital-only TV broadcasts on Feb. 17.
Each weekday, WFLA's original morning entertainment show Daytime will air on 8 Prime at 9 a.m. (Because the show is taped a day in advance, the same episode will air an hour later on WFLA.) The station's 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts will air weekdays at 7 and 7:30 p.m.; locally produced shows such as Star Watch and Real Animals will air over the weekends.
Otherwise, the channel will air old episodes of shows ranging from The A-Team to Magnum P.I., Knight Rider (old school version, of course), and Ironside. RTN makes money by selling commercials inside the broadcasts, WFLA gets a secondary digital channel with content different than the weather channels operated by rivals Bright House Networks' Bay News 9, WFTS-Ch. 28 and WTSP-Ch. 10.
"I kept looking at Weather Channel Plus and saying 'I don't get it, everybody's got a weather channel here,' " said WFLA general manager Mike Pumo, who got the opportunity to dump NBC's Weather Plus when the channel folded at the end of 2008. "In Tampa, our population base is more adpatable to this kind of programming."