Jewish Life Television, a Jewish-themed cable network that focuses on the cultural side of Judaism, is now available for Spectrum cable subscribers in the Milwaukee area, as well as other markets around the country.
The channel arrived in Wisconsin in August. Those in Milwaukee who subscribe to Spectrum’s “Entertainment Value” package can watch it on Spectrum Channel 345, 381 or 384. The network, for most of its history, has been available on DirecTV, as well as on Spectrum in some markets — including ones operated by Time Warner Cable, prior to its acquisition by Spectrum parent company Charter Communications — although the arrival in Wisconsin is part of an expansion into several new areas.
“What we appreciate they’ve done is filled all the holes,” Jewish Life Television’s Brad Pomerance told the Chronicle in an interview. “So now we’re airing in virtually every home that’s served by Charter Communications, known as Spectrum.” Charter is the second-largest cable company in the U.S.
“We were very focused on Wisconsin,” Pomerance added. “Milwaukee, Madison, we know those are two areas with very large Jewish communities.”
Jewish Life Television, which is offered on basic cable in the U.S. and Canada, includes a mixture of original and licensed content. Its original shows include the global travel series “Air Land & Sea,” the multi-generational dating show known as “Bubbies Know Best,” and the upcoming “Generations,” a series that entails celebrities learning DNA results.
“Air Land & Sea” and “Generations” are both hosted by Pomerance, who is both an on-air host and the network’s executive vice president. The “Air Land & Sea” show is set to visit Poland in early October. Pomerance has been involved with the network since 2008, the year after its founding, and has worked there full-time since 2017.
“We’re really more of a cultural network than a religious network,” Pomerance said. “Our friends in the Christian television space, there’s a lot of praying and raising funds. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not who we are. We are a general entertainment audience that anyone and everyone can watch.” He added that the majority of the network’s viewers are not Jewish, including some Christians who are interested in Israeli programs.
Among the shows also featured on the network are the Israeli series “Fauda” and “Prisoners of War” (the inspiration for the American show “Homeland”), as well as “Servant of the People,” the show that starred Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy prior to his time in politics. While all three shows have been on streaming services in the past, Pomerance said that Jewish Life Television licensed them directly from their original overseas production companies.
For those three shows, Pomerance said, Jewish Life Television is “the only non-streamer airing it in the English language in North America.”
The arrival of Jewish Life Television for cable customers in Milwaukee coincides with that of another Jewish broadcasting channel, the Jewish Broadcasting Service, which landed in several Wisconsin markets served by Spectrum on Sept. 1, which was also part of a national expansion.
While Jewish Broadcasting Service offers a streaming component, Jewish Life Television is more of a pure cable play. Jewish Life Television does not offer a standalone streaming subscription service, although it is available as a FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) channel through Xumo, DistroTV and Local Now. Also, Jewish Broadcasting Service features religious services as part of its programming, while Jewish Life Television does not.
“There’s this notion that cable’s not as important as it used to be. For us, cable is very important. Our audience is still watching cable and satellite,” Pomernace said. “‘Aunt Pearl’ is not cutting the cord. Aunt Pearl wants her cable, she wants her satellite. That’s why we’re still committed to expansion on traditional video providers… our audience is still using them as their television delivery device.”
Spectrum, on Sept. 11, reached an agreement with the Walt Disney Co. to end a carriage dispute which had pulled ESPN, ABC and other Disney-owned channels from Spectrum subscribers for nearly two weeks. There had been fears that Spectrum’s business would be hurt by a prolonged dispute, but it has now been settled.
“In many communities, we were hearing that they wanted to have Jewish Life Television offered and available through cable companies,” Pomerance said. “As a result, there was a push within Federations and with some elected officials, to let the cable companies know that there was support for Jewish Life Television in their communities.”
A pair of officials, State Rep. Lisa Subeck and Milwaukee Alderman Jonathan Brostoff, were involved in the push to get Spectrum to bring the channel to Wisconsin.
“I am thrilled to learn of the expansion of Jewish Life Television to Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. Viewers will quickly be drawn to the diverse and enriching programming Jewish Life Television has to offer, and just having Jewish Life Television in its lineup will greatly enhance the overall Charter/Spectrum package for cable subscribers,” said Brostoff in a Jewish Life Television news release. He had wrote a letter of support to Spectrum while he was serving in the Wisconsin Legislature.