Illinois is home to several major television markets. As of 2012, Chicago was ranked the third largest local television market in the U.S., with nearly 3.5 million households tuned in to various major and independent networks throughout its designated market area, according to Nielsen Company statistics. Other major television markets include St. Louis (including East St. Louis and surrounding areas), Champaign-Springfield, Peoria-Bloomington and Davenport.
Like many other areas of the United States, Illinois residents were being introduced to the new entertainment medium of television throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. Residents of major cities like Chicago and St. Louis quickly adopted the new medium as the number of individual cities, while those living in the central and southern portions of the state finally received stations of their own during the mid to late 1950s.
How to Find Channels
- Our channel lists are separated by city and state.
- Be sure to view channels based on the type of service you have (antenna, cable, or satellite TV)
- Use the search bar at the top if you don’t see your listed channels.
Illinois was once home to one of the first experimental television stationsThe state also holds the notable distinction of being the birthplace of the plasma display monitor, courtesy of the University of Illinois. The predecessor to today’s plasma televisions was pioneered by professors Gene Slottow and Donald Bitzer.
Current Television Networks
Given the size of the Chicago television market, all of the major over-the-air (OTA) networks are well represented within the state. These stations include WBBM (CBS), WMAQ (NBC), WLS (ABC), WFLD (Fox), WTTW and WYCC (PBS). Special mention goes to WGN-TV (CW), one of the most well-known television stations not only throughout the state, but also the entire country. WGN was one of the first stations to pioneer the “superstation” concept its local feed throughout the U.S. via cable and satellite.
There are also a variety of independent television channels throughout Illinois, including Chicago-based WJYS and WCIU-TV, Mount Vernon-based WPXS, Quincy-based WTJR and Hammond-based WJYS. These independent television channels offer a wide variety of content, from older syndicated television shows and movies to infomercials and religious programming.
Current Cable and Satellite Providers
Like most other states, the cable and satellite needs of Illinois residents are largely handled by nationally known telecommunications companies, including Time Warner, DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. Other providers include Knology, Bright House and Insight. However, there are a number of locally owned telco companies, most whom offer high-speed internet and common carrier satellite communications services in certain regions.
College and Campus Television
Several universities throughout Illinois provide educational and informational programming that benefits the community interest through local access networks. For example, Parkland College operates PCTV, a 24-hour cable television channel that offers telecourses, event announcements and other programming throughout Champaign and surrounding areas.
In addition to their own educational access channels, some collegiate institutions, including the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, also own and operate PBS-affiliated stations (WILL, WEIU, and WSIU, respectively). Working in partnership with these university-owned stations allows the public television network to air its content throughout the state.
DTV Channel Lists are available for the following cities in Illinois.
Chicago, Illinois (IL)
Rockford, Illinois (IL)
Aurora, Illinois (IL)
Naperville, Illinois (IL)
Peoria, Illinois (IL)
Springfield, Illinois (IL)
Joliet, Illinois (IL)
Elgin, Illinois (IL)
Cicero, Illinois (IL)