In the era of Netflix and other Over-The-Top streaming platforms, you’ll seldom find anyone who still prefers a cable TV connection to fulfill their entertainment needs.
But if any name can bring the golden days of television back to the fold, it’s Turner Classic Movies – the numero uno pay-TV network for decades.
While the entertainment industry speeds ahead, some old-timers still want to enjoy the refreshing experience of enjoying cable TV.
As a result, thousands of questions are swarming the internet right now, all leading to the same inquiry – is TCM still on air?
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to find about the traditional TV channel that once ruled your hearts and television sets.
A Brief Intro to TCM
Turner Classic Movies, popularly referred to as TCM, was once the most popular pay-TV network worldwide.
In the 1990s, roughly half a century after the golden television period, any half-decent cable package provider would have TCM in their plans.
It was the go-to channel for millions of people who were interested in the cult classics of world cinema.
Over time, however, TCM struggled to retain its positioning in the market, especially as the fast-entertainment trend took over.
Interestingly, TCM was not merely a conduit for broadcasting Hollywood classics.
Instead, it also served as an educational platform for cinephiles who wished to engage in discussions and trivia about their favorite films of the older generation.
In the 21st century, TCM has tried to implement multiple changes, especially in the last decade. The move was necessary to capture the younger market.
However, the broadcasting channel is doing its level best to ensure that it preserves its classical touch while catering to the newer audience as well.
Does TCM Still Air in 2022?
It’s hard to believe that a traditional TV channel could still survive a decade of cinematic and entertainment revolution.
However, TCM is still going strong in 2022, open to adapting to the new trends while still retaining its traditional values.
Apart from being one of the few global channels to be still broadcasting classic Hollywood films, TCM’s secondary unique selling proposition is its unique format.
Indeed, it’s how they present their material on TV that helped them survive the fierce competition.
Another popular question on the internet – is TCM a free channel, and where can I watch the TCM channel?
The answer entirely depends on your current requirements. If you want a cable TV connection, you’ll have to purchase a plan that includes TCM in its package.
If you want to opt for a cable-free option, there are specific OTT platforms like Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV that provide a subscription to TCM’s online services.
It’s almost a marvel how TCM still exists in 2022, competing against the likes of Netflix while also having a unique positioning in the industry.
So let’s have a look at how the legendary television channel managed to achieve this feat.
TCM’s Unique Presentation – A Step Ahead of Netflix’s Fast-Paced Service
If there’s one thing that separates Netflix from all other streaming platforms, it’s the lack of advertisements and their ability to broadcast the latest releases in the industry.
TCM’s service model ran in the opposite direction. Yet, they somehow always looked a step ahead in this regard.
The channel’s content mainly includes classical cinematic masterpieces, primarily films before the 1980s. The good thing?
There are no commercial breaks while they air a particular film, a stark contrast to most broadcasting channels.
However, TCM does air several promos and other advertisements during a brief break between different films.
The youth, however, would not be entirely averse to these promos, as they’re unlike the traditional advertisements that they see on their television.
Instead, the promos include information on the other films that the channel would broadcast later.
Additionally, TCM also advertises its own line of products, such as the TCM Wine Club, a 2015 initiative that allows customers to order popular vines from classic vineyards.
Everything about TCM radiates a touch of elegance – from its unique formatting and presentation to how it approaches the modern market while still trying to preserve its traditional principles.
The most distinctive aspect of TCM, apart from the kind of films they broadcast, is their ability to host and foster cinematic discussions while broadcasting different films.
This intriguing tradition of theirs gave birth to a television legend – Robert Osborne.
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TCM – A Film School for All
Don’t worry; there are no cliffhangers in this article; we’ll pick up right where we left off.
Robert Osborne was one of TCM’s exclusive TV hosts who appeared before a show to introduce the film.
They later reappeared after the end credits rolled out to cultivate engaging and healthy discussions on the film.
The unique characteristic made TCM stand out from all the characteristics.
Seldom did any broadcasting channel consider making a viewer’s experience entertaining as well as educational. Over time, the tradition made TCM the people’s channel.
There’s a reason why today, even after three long decades that fostered countless cinematic revolutions, people are still interested in knowing what is happening with TCM, especially after their recent rebranding strategy.
The legendary team of TCM’s hosts includes Ben Mankiewicz, Jacqueline Stewart, Alicia Malone, and the most popular of them all – Robert Osborne – the cult hero who became the face and voice of Turner Classic Movies.
What Happened to the TCM Host?
Robert Osborne was one of the key figures behind TCM’s paramount brand recognition.
The veteran TV host joined the channel during its inception in 1994 and continued to wow the audience with his exemplary cinematic knowledge for two decades, up until 2016.
The loyalists of the broadcasting network are still looking around for that recognizable face and voice as TCM is preparing for a comeback on the big stage.
But, unfortunately, they won’t be able to find Robert in any of the new broadcasts.
The legendary face of TCM passed away on 6 March 2017, having spearheaded the success of the channel for more than two decades.
While other hosts of equally impressive stature, like Alicia Malone and Ben Mankiewicz, followed his departure, they cannot have the same effect on TCM’s Television Rating Point as the legendary old-timer.
Osborne used to set the stage for classic Hollywood films, introducing them with a refreshing vigor each time.
His discussions were equally engaging, warm, welcoming, and passionate, suitable for listeners of any age.
These hosts, although underrated, made TCM what it is today – more than just a broadcasting channel, but a community of cinephiles and classic Hollywood lovers.
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TCM’s Fairytale: Birth, Flight, Descent, and Struggle
Turner Classic Movies had its inaugural ceremony on 14 April 1994, an inspirational bain-child of Ted Turner.
A relatively young entrepreneur, philanthropist, and television proprietor, Turner sought to acquire multiple film libraries in the 1980s.
He first grabbed the rights to MGM’s traditional film library of all their collections up until 1986. His first acquisition served as the foundation for TCM’s launch.
Another popular question on the internet is, who bought TCM?
The television channel was upgraded in 1996 after a surprise partnership with Time Warner, adding the Warner Bros. library to the fold.
While it was almost like a partnership, Time Warner purchased the broadcasting channel to merge their services in a single plateau of television solutions.
TCM made history on 14 April 1994 by broadcasting their first classical film, Gone With The Wind; the show’s timing symbolized the centennial anniversary of the first film to be broadcasted in New York.
From there on, TCM continued to acquire rich film collections and continues to broadcast hundreds of cult cinematic classics on their channel even today.
TCM’s Tryst with Modernization
From the 2010s onward, the rapidly decreasing popularity of the television culture hit all popular broadcasting channels, including TCM.
During this period, the trends changed, and so did the viewership habits of the audience. The younger market opted to pay for OTT services instead of having a cable connection in their homes.
The streaming culture grew in popularity with the sudden introduction of almost invincible brands like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc.
The thing about the entertainment industry is that if you don’t capture the young market, you’ll eventually go out of business.
While TCM still had the support of veteran loyalists, they didn’t engage in the television culture anymore. If they did, it was seldom.
To remain profitable, they needed to adapt to the shifting trends.
Fortunately, while Netflix and other OTT platforms had a comprehensive collection of films, shows, and other entertainment-related media content, they lacked on one front – having a classical film library.
TCM sought to make this their unique selling proposition and launched their own streaming services in 2016 in collaboration with the Criterion Collection.
It seemed like the strategy would work – TCM’s streaming platform, FilmStruck, certainly had something to offer that other platforms simply couldn’t.
However, its sustained progression faltered when AT&T intervened.
When AT&T purchased TCM’s parent company – Time Warner – they restructured the whole production, renaming it to WarnerMedia and shutting down the Turner Broadcasting Division.
Ultimately, TCM’s streaming services suffered an early demise, permanently shutting down on 29 November 2018.
TCM’s Fall-Out with Comcast
Comcast, the United States’ largest cable provider, had been hosting TCM for a long time in their primary packages.
In 2019, however, Comcast removed the channel from their basic package and instead included it in one of their more premium plans.
So, why did Comcast remove TCM? The broadcasting network witnessed a stark decrease in their viewership.
The official note of Comcast claimed that over 90% of their viewers watched less than two films a month.
As a result of this steep drop, they decided to cut their losses and included TCM in their Sports Package. Now, users who were earlier accessing TCM’s content for free had to pay an extra fee to upgrade to the Sports Package.
As one would expect, this move by Comcast infuriated the viewers. Several loyalists demanded explanations for this change.
While Comcast obliged, they didn’t do enough to subside the fans’ anger.
Nevertheless, they didn’t overturn their decision either, so TCM became a premium channel, more inaccessible to the common folk than ever.
TCM’s Rebranding Strategy
The good news out of all this? TCM still lives on. They released a new slogan and message on 1 September 2021 – “Where Then Meets Now.”
The rebranding slogan aims to preserve the channel’s vicinity to classical films and cinematic discussions while fostering healthy relations with the younger market.
The company’s new motto represents the channel’s core values – the four C’s: curation, context, connection, and culture, perfectly representing their plans for the next decade.
TCM’s rebranding aims to attract the younger audience to experience their services while also sticking with their traditional method of educating the youth through films and cinema.
Another popular question – does TCM still have Noir Alley?
Fortunately, the rebranding won’t affect TCM’s long-term association with Noir, with Sunday and Saturday nights reserved for their broadcast.
TCM is a legendary broadcasting service. However, over their years of operation, they’ve become more than just a channel, a community of cinema enthusiasts and film lovers.
Thankfully, the recent rebranding suggests that Turner Classic Movies will continue to impress us on the big stage.