Over the Air (OTA) or Terrestrial television is the type of television broadcasting in which the television signal is transmitted by radio waves from the terrestrial (Earth-based) transmitter of a television station to a TV receiver having an antenna. Many times the OTA broadcasting coincides with Cable TV programming, but without as many networks and programs available.
People use OTA television for three major reasons …
1) OTA television is free television, except for the one-time purchase of a television and an antenna. However, programming available is much less than cable TV or satellite TV.
2) Combination use with cable television, when people use a large number of televisions at home or at work, saves the cost of having a cable box or digital adaptor for each TV.
3) Use of the OTA television is available if cable television or satellite television fails in storms, power failures — for example.
Info on changing OTA frequencies
Leading Stations on Chicago OTA
(subject to change without immediate updates on this page)
CBS (WBBM-TV) …
WBBM-TV (“World’s Best Battery Maker” chicago.cbslocal.com) is a virtual channel 2 (VHF digital channel 12/UHF 48.3). WBBM is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to Chicago, Illinois. WBBM-TV has the weakest transmitter among major TV network Chicago OTA channels.
WBBM-TV and Weigel
The U Too Main WMEU-CD programming
WBBM-DT2 Simulcast Start TV
CBS2-HD Simulcast of WBBM-TV (CBS)
48.4 WCIU-DT6 (Decades)
Transmitter 15 kW
NBC (WMAQ-TV) …
WMAQ-TV (“We Must Ask Questions” nbcchicago.com) virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 29), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to serve in Chicago, Illinois. WMAQ is owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal, as part of a duopoly with Telemundo owned-and-operated station WSNS-TV (channel 44). NBCUniversal is a Comcast subsidiary, which owns NBCUniversal, Telemundo, and NBC Sports Chicago.
Telemundo is the second largest provider of Spanish-language content nationally behind American competitor Univision, with programming syndicated worldwide to more than 100 countries in over 35 languages.
NBC Sports Chicago is a regional sports network.
WMAQ-TV and WSNS-TV share studio facilities and business offices at the NBC Tower on North Columbus Drive in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood and transmitter (350 kW) facilities atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop.
ABC (WLS-TV) …
WLS-TV (World’s Largest Store abc7chicago.com) is virtual channel 7 (UHF digital channel 44), is an ABC owned-and-operated television station licensed to serve Chicago, Illinois. The station is owned by the ABC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. WLS-TV’s studios are located on North State Street near the Chicago Theatre in the Chicago Loop, and its transmitter (1000 kW) is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive.
7.1 WLS-TV ABC programming
190 North – a local lifestyle program (titled after the station’s studio address at 190 North State Street in the Loop) hosted by Janet Davies; the show began broadcasting in 1998 and then in high-definition on May 6, 2007.
Let’s Dish – a food-based travel program produced by WLS-TV for the Live Well Network.
Windy City Live – an afternoon talk show with a live weekday audience hosted by Ryan Chiaverini and Valerie Warner that premiered on May 26, 2011, replacing The Oprah Winfrey Show.
WGN-TV (“World’s Greatest Newspaper” wgntv.com) is virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 19), is an independent television station licensed to Chicago, Illinois, United States, serving as the flagship television property of the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WGN (720 AM) and local cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV) is also owned by Tribune Media Company. The station’s second digital subchannel serves as an owned-and-operated station of the classic TV network Antenna TV.
9.1: 1080i 16:9 WGN-DT
9.2: 480i 4:3 Antenna
9.3: 480i 4:3 THIS
9.4: 480i 16:9 TBD
WGN-TV studio and offices are located at 2501 West Bradley Place (between North Campbell and North Talman Avenues) in Chicago’s North Center community (as such, it is the only major commercial television station in Chicago with studio facilities located outside the downtown business district), and its transmitter (645 kW) is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop.
Antenna TV (antennatv.tv) is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media. The network’s programming consists of classic television series from the 1950s to the early 2000s, most of which are sourced from the content library of Sony Pictures Entertainment, along with a selection of series from Universal Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Carson Entertainment.
thisTV” (thistv.com) is an American free-to-air television network that is owned by ThisTV, LLC, a joint venture between the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media, and the MGM Domestic Television Distribution subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. thisTV maintains a large programming emphasis on films (those primarily sourced from the library of partial owner Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), but also airs other limited general entertainment content in the form of classic television series and children’s programming.
TBD-TV (tbd.com) is a free-to-air television network that is owned by the Sinclair Television Group — subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group and operated by Jukin Media. TBD-TV targets millennial audiences and focuses on internet-based series and other digital content (including showcases of user-generated music, animation and comedy videos, eSports, and compiled half-hour and hour-long episodes of short-form web series), along with some feature films
FOX (WFLD) …
WFLD is virtual channel 32 (UHF digital channel 31), and is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to serve Chicago, Illinois. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Gary, Indiana-licensed primary CW affiliate and secondary MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WPWR-TV (channel 50).
WFLD (FielD Enterprises fox32chicago.com) and WPWR-TV stations share studios at Michigan Plaza on North Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop; WFLD’s transmitter (1000 kW) is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Loop business district.
WCIU “THE U” …
WCIU-TV (wciu.com) is virtual channel 26 (UHF digital channel 27), is an independent television station licensed to serve in Chicago, Illinois. WCIU serves as the flagship television property of locally based Weigel Broadcasting, and is sister to MeTV flagship WWME-CD (channel 23) and fellow independent outlet WMEU-CD (channel 48), both fellow Weigel properties that are respectively relayed on WCIU’s second and third digital subchannels. The three stations share studios on Halsted Street (between Washington Boulevard and Madison Street) in the Greektown neighborhood; WCIU’s transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop.
CW (WPWR) …
WPWR-TV (fox32chicago.comcw50chicago) is virtual channel 50 (UHF digital channel 51), is a primary CW-affiliated and secondary MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated television station serving Chicago, Illinois, and licensed to serve Gary, Indiana. WPWR is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with Fox owned-and-operated station WFLD (channel 32). Fox Chicago and WPWR share studios at Michigan Plaza on North Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop. WPWR’s transmitter (1000 kW) is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Loop business district. On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity on channel 8 (SD)/184 (HD), AT&T U-verse on channel 8 SD/1008 HD, and WOW! on channel 8 SD/204 HD.
UNIMAS (WXFT-DT) …
WXFT-DT, virtual channel 60 (UHF digital channel 44), is an UniMás owned-and-operated television station serving Chicago, Illinois, United States that is licensed to Aurora. The station is owned by the Univision Local Media subsidiary of Univision Communications, as part of a duopoly with Joliet-licensed Univision owned-and-operated station WGBO-DT (channel 66).
The two stations share studios on Fairbanks Court (near Columbus Drive and Illinois Street) in the Streeterville neighborhood; WXFT shares transmitter facilities with ABC owned-and-operated station WLS-TV (channel 7) atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop. On cable, WXFT is available on Comcast Xfinity and RCN channel 15. Due to a lack of an UniMás affiliate in the Milwaukee market, it is carried on DirecTV as part of that market’s local channel lineup (channel 60 in both Chicago and Milwaukee).
60.1 WXFT programming/UniMás
Escape (escapetv.com) is an American digital multicast television network owned by Katz Broadcasting. The network, which is targeted at women between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, focuses primarily on mystery and crime programming
Quest (questtv.com) specializes in travel, historical, science, and adventure-focused documentary and reality series aimed at adults between the ages of 25 and 54. Quest is an American digital multicast television network that is owned by Cooper Media. The network
UNIVISION WGBO-DT …
WGBO-DT (univision.com) is virtual channel 66 (UHF digital channel 38), and is a Univision owned-and-operated television station serving Chicago, Illinois that is licensed to serve Joliet, Illinois. The station is owned by the Univision Local Media subsidiary of Univision Communications, as part of a duopoly with Aurora-licensed UniMás owned-and-operated station WXFT-DT (channel 60). WGBO-DT and WXFT-DT share studios on Fairbanks Court (near Columbus Drive and Illinois Street) in Chicago. WGBO’s transmitter (600 kW) is located atop the John Hancock Center on North Michigan Avenue, both in the Streeterville neighborhood.
66.1 WGBO-DT programming/Univision
66.2 LAFF Laff
66.3 4:3 getTV
66.4 16:9 Justice Network
66.5 4:3 Grit
PBS (WTTW) …
WTTW Coming Soon