Time Warner announces massive channel lineup shuffle

May 21, 2013 by
Time Warner Cable

SYRACUSE -- Got all the channel numbers on your Time Warner Cable lineup memorized?  At least your favorites, anyway?  Well, come June 18, you can forget all those numbers.  Time Warner says it's completely reorganizing its digital cable channel numbers for Syracuse and surrounding areas.

The cable giant has been sending letters to subscribers, announcing the changes on one side, and listing the new lineup on the other.  Here at HQ in Syracuse, that letter arrived today.

The letter explains, "when you asked for an easier way to search for channels, we delivered by reorganizing our lineup by category.  Starting June 18, 2013, finding your favorite networks will be easier than ever."

For customers who don't use a cable box, Time Warner says analog channels 1-99 will remain unchanged.  That's probably for the best, considering different parts of Central New York have different numbers.  For example, the lineup within the City of Syracuse differs from the lineup in the suburbs, and the lineup in Oswego, and the lineup covering Oneida and Rome.

But all of Central New York has a nearly-identical lineup for digital channels.  (With the exception of local broadcast stations -- viewers in Syracuse only get Syracuse market stations, viewers east of Rome only get Utica market stations, and viewers between approximately Canastota and Rome get broadcast stations from both markets.)

The cable company says it's organizing the channels by category.  That's similar to the way channels are offered in the Time Warner Cable "app" available free to the cable company's subscribers who use Roku brand media players within their homes.

To clarify -- as far as we can tell, no channels are being dropped or added.  You'll still get all the same channels in your current level of service.  Time Warner is simply assigning new numbers to the channels.

How the channels will be grouped

Here's a cluster-by-cluster rundown of where channels will be located in the new lineup:

  • 100s: Entertainment / Life and Style - Select local broadcast channels plus cable networks including USA, WGN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, GSN, Soapnet and BET.
  • Low 200s: News and Info - Time Warner's own local news network, YNN, is the lead-off hitter at channel 200, followed by networks like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Weather Channel and all 3 versions of C-SPAN.
  • 250-270: Kids and Teens - Disney, Nickelodeon (and its cousins, like Nicktoons), Cartoon Network.
  • 285-299: Music - MTV Jams, MTV Hits (note the original MTV, which hasn't actually had much "M" in decades, is in the 100s), Palladia, CMT.
  • 300s: Sports - ESPN and its cousins lead-off this block, which also includes NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, 3 Time Warner Cable Sports Channels and more -- enough for this block to run well into the 400s, with plenty of numbers being skipped for potential future additions.
  • 460s: Religious - EWTN, INSP, Daystar, TBN, Jewish Life TV.  Those 5 channels are the entire block.
  • 480s: Shopping - QVC, HSN, Five "Shop Zeal" channels, ShopNBC, etc.
  • 500s-650: Movies - Movies on Demand, and a mix of "premium" (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax) and "cable" (Sundance, IFC, TCM) movie channels.
  • 650s: Pay-Per-View: Four channels dedicated to PPV events.
  • 670s: 3D - ESPN 3D, two "3D Special Events" channels and a Pay-Per-View 3D channel.
  • 700s: Sports Packages - Subscription "every game in every market" packages like MLB Extra Innings and NHL Center Ice.
  • 800s/900s: Latino - Univision, Galavision, ESPN Deportes, TWC Deportes, CNN en Espanol, Gol TV, etc.
  • 1000s: On Demand - Many "On Demand" channels are also listed within their genre's respective categories, but the 1000-tier clusters them all together, including Movies, Primetime, Entertainment, Cutting Edge, Kids, Music, Lifestyle, Sports and more.
  • 1200s: Local Programming - Even though the four major broadcast networks are duplicated in the 100s, all the local broadcast channels (including digital subchannels) appear in the 1200s.  We just wish the channel numbers more closely resembled the on-air channel numbers.  (For example, Fox 68 WSYT is on digital cable as 868 for now -- but instead of moving to 1268, Time Warner is moving it to 1210.)
  • 1400s: International - TVJapan, Bollywood on Demand, TV Asia, TV Polonia, RTN and more.
  • 1800s: Adult programming.
  • 1900s: Music Choice - 47 different channels of 24/7 music.

No more SD vs. HD confusion... well, almost

Time Warner says the new lineup will not only group similar channels together, but it will eliminate the need for viewers to know the difference between a particular network's standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) channel numbers.

For example, if you want to watch Syracuse CBS affiliate WTVH, there are currently several different channel numbers:

  • With an HD cable box, the HD signal is on 855, while the analog signal is on channel 5.  Some cable boxes are automatically programmed to automatically display the HD channel, even if the analog channel is selected.
  • With an SD cable box, analog channel 5 is the only option, as HD channel 855 would be blocked out.
  • Without any cable box, an analog TV can see WTVH on channel 5.  But a digital TV can "see" analog channel 5.0 in addition to digital channel 5.1, if you've used the TV's channel scan feature first.

When the new channel lineups take effect, WTVH will be offered on channel 102 (in the Entertainment cluster) and channel 1205 (in the Local Programming cluster).  SD cable boxes will show the SD feed, and HD boxes will show the HD feed (if available), even though they both use the same channel number.

But... if you have a TV connected to cable, without a cable box, you'll still need to remember the "old" analog number between 1 and 99.  Or, for local broadcast channels, just use the over-the-air number.  For example, tuning to 9.2 on a digital TV without a cable box will get you WSYR-TV's MeTV feed on 9.2 just as you'd get with an antenna.

Comparing Current Channel Numbers to New Numbers

A brief selection of channel numbers -- where they are now, and where they'll be after June 18:

Channel NameCurrent SD #Current HD #New # as of 6/18/13
WSTM-TV 3 (NBC)4863104 or 1215
WTVH-TV 5 (CBS)5855102 or 1205
WSYR-TV 9 (ABC)9889101 or 1200
WCNY-TV 24 (PBS)118531270
WSYT (Fox 68)88681210
Comedy Central50883117
Disney Channel58840251
truTV52 or 91884116

Although Time Warner's letter included the full lineup, it also said the list would be posted online at -- but when we clicked from that page to the actual channel listing, nothing appeared.
Update 6/12: The second link in the sentence above will not work if you click it directly.  You need to click the first link, then click the "new channel lineup" link from there (kind of an odd glitch, no?).  Once that page loads, you'll see June 18 is the new lineup rollout date for Syracuse (city and suburbs), Oswego, Fulton, Auburn and the Rome/Oneida systems.  June 20 is when Boonville in Oneida County gets its new lineup, along with systems in Jefferson and Lewis Counties.  On June 25, the new channel lineups hit Utica, Ithaca, Hamilton and Old Forge.

DVR Users: No Changes Needed

Time Warner says in its letter, and on its website, that your scheduled DVR recordings will automatically update to the new channel numbers, but the company says it "does encourage customers to review all scheduled recordings after the change."

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of Time Warner's plan to shuffle the channel numbers?  Do you think the "genre clustering" strategy makes sense, and will help you find certain channels?  Or are you upset that you'll have to relearn the numbers you've known for years?  Share your comments below, using either your Facebook account or your free user login.

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One comment on “Time Warner announces massive channel lineup shuffle”

  1. Not sure why they needed to make it so complicated.

    Just make the HD channel add 1000 to the standard channel, EG WSYT becomes 1008 or ESPN becomes 1024. If you need to shuffle move some around into blocks 10, 20, 30, 40 etc. Do they anticipate offering us potentially 1000 channels of TV?


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