While it may seem that the broadcast networks are focused on embracing new platforms for their content such as Hulu, iTunes and their own digital platforms, having a local affiliate in every market is still a priority.
In the case of ABC, that means finding a home in Hattiesburg, Miss., which is the country's 167th largest market.
Raycom Media, which owns 46 stations across the country, has struck a deal with ABC to give it a home on one of its digital channels in Hattiesburg. Raycom already owns WDAM there, which is an NBC affiliate. Now the broadcaster will use its digital spectrum to create what's known in the industry as a sub-channel for ABC. WDAM NBC is on Channel 7 and WDAM ABC is Channel 7.2. The new channel will launch Monday.
Until this deal, residents of Hattiesburg got ABC programming from Raycom's station in neighboring Biloxi. As Biloxi Examiner media columnist Bill Hugel put, Raycom's new deal with ABC will make it the "800-pound gorilla" in what's known as the Pine Belt market.
For ABC, the agreement gives it affiliates in 242 markets. While it may seem like a minor deal, the extra spectrum, which local broadcasters got access to when they switched to digital signal a few years back, means the broadcast networks can now find homes in small towns that previously may have had only a couple of TV stations and no vacancies.