What's the Better Channel: TLC or BBC America?


Just as many of the high school-aged characters of ABC Family will someday go on to college where they'll get stoned and watch cartoons all day, it seems many of ABC Family's viewers have already made that leap! Congratulations to...

You guys made some great points! I liked these comments a lot:

Big_Pecks: "Cartoon Network. How can you say no to Finn and Jake?"

prettyedy: "Count me for Cartoon Network. Yes to Adult Swim, no to Pat Robertson."

bluemystique: "ABC Family because if I had to choose between feeling like an idiot watching teenage shows versus feeling like an idiot watching kids shows...teens ftw."

And special thanks to safibwana for reminding people why two completely different networks may occasionally face off:

"There can be only one. It's not just like things. In the end it may come down to QVC vs the Spice Network."

I'm definitely regretting leaving the Spice Network out of the bracket! Maybe next year...


High and low cultures collide in this week's mega matchup!

Background: Founded in 1972 when it was then known as, get this, the Appalachian Community Service Network, TLC didn't become "The Learning Channel" until around 1980, at which point it spent the next decade airing hard educational content. The Discovery Channel acquired the network in 1991 and retained much of its dry, informational tone as a contrast to Discovery's by-comparison mass-appeal entertainment. But as we all know, good things don't last, and TLC dropped the whole "learning" part of its mantra and became a repository for some of the basest, crassest, cheapest reality programming on the entire cable spectrum. It is, of course, one of the highest-rated networks.

Original Programming: The first modern TLC program was arguably the interior design show Trading Spaces (which made stars out of many of its designers), but personality-specific shows followed, including Kate Plus 8, Little People, Big World, 19 Kids and Counting, and The Little Couple. TLC also loves to explore weirdos, outsiders, and subcultures with things like Sister Wives, Toddlers & Tiaras, Hoarding: Buried Alive, NY Ink, Extreme Couponing, My Strange Addiction, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. And who can forget the who-asked-for-this classic Sarah Palin's Alaska?

Reruns: Like Discovery, TLC has a vast archive to recycle from, but it's also been known to acquire and/or remake foreign content, like BBC series Junkyard Wars and Say Yes to the Dress.

Why It's the Best: Faint praise, but TLC tends to air some pretty addictive content.

Why It's the Worst: Much of its content is soul-deadening? Even something as fun as Extreme Couponers got repetitive after the third episode.

 

Background: Americans may not know this, but anyone who watches TV in the UK is forced to pay a mandatory "television licence" fee, which basically pays for the BBC. Can you imagine if WE had to directly pay for Bachelor Pad or Ringer? There'd be rioting in the streets! Good thing we pay for things the old-fashioned way, by staring blankly at advertisements and then feeling mysteriously compelled to purchase the products later. Anyway! BBC America launched in 1998 as a member of the Discovery Channel family, and because UK citizens shouldn't have to pay for EVERYTHING, it runs advertising. Since its inception, BBC America has been mostly a repository for BBC's formidable array of original series but lately has started to air reruns of American shows as well as produce original content.

Original Programming: Define "original." A majority of BBC America's programming is original TO AMERICANS, but let's be real, it's mostly reruns or simulcasts of the mother ship's programming. In addition to its daytime BBC news coverage, some of the better-known shows include Doctor Who, the various Gordon Ramsay and Graham Norton shows, Top Gear, Being Human, Peep Show, Primeval, a handful of new Absolutely Fabulous episodes, plus the recently aired BBC America co-production The Fades and Chris Hardwick's The Nerdist.

Reruns: Lately BBC America's been airing more American reruns for some reason, including Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The Tudors.

Why It's the Best: Not to be a nerd about it, but IT'S THE BBC. Look at the stats: At least 85 percent of the BBC's programming is awesome. It's a scientific fact.

Why It's the Worst: Many BBC series were not intended to include commercial breaks, so it can be awkward when an episode suddenly cuts to a tampon commercial midway through a scene.



Official TV.com Verdict
God save the Queen (so that she doesn't gain 500 pounds and then accidentally give birth in a Taco Bell bathroom): BBC America by a mile.


But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: TLC or BBC America? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?


Click below to see the full tournament bracket:


Note: Because we started with an odd number of channels, we gave some of the bigger channels a first-round bye.


Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.

Comments (90)
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BBC America ... TLC is not about Learning anymore ...
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BBC 'cause I'm totally cool with being a nerd about it.
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BBC AMERICA!!
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Don't really watch TLC, so it's BBCA for me. Though I'm not a big Dr. Who fan, the network has a number of good series I like. Among them are Being Human (which is much better than SyFy's), The Fades, and Primeval, as well as few series that ended like the original Life on Mars, its spinoff Ashes to Ashes, Survivors, Demons, and Robin Hood. I also like Merlin, which though airs on SyFy, originated from the BBC.
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its doctor eho not dr.who do not ask the difference lol
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TLC is disgusting, it highlights everything that's wrong with American television...BBC America all the way
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BBC America. Two reasons: Doctor Who and Top Gear, the best 2 shows on TV.
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TLC has Toddlers and Tiaras (shudder) and I didn't know I was pregnant. That should make it lose. But then to pair it against BBC America, which is a freaking fantastic channel with shows like Primeval, well, there is no contest. BBC!!!
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BBC America FTW... I don't watch TV to learn.. If I wanted to learn I would go to class once in a while
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I guess I'm the outsider here because I'm voting for TLC. If it didn't exist, I probably wouldn't miss it. But it does and it's addictive. If you think about it...TLC is pretty instructive. I would never believe someone if they told me that some people out there eat detergent and sleep with their hairdryer. I also learned that the coupon system is seriously lucrative in the states. Makes for good conversations at the office does it not?
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It does not.
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I have to agree. BBC America.
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BBC America!
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BBC AMERICA!
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I've always felt that programs on television should be entertaining in the very least, if the news was not on. TLC is one of the least entertaining channels out there. BBC America has great programs and is the winner.
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BBC FTW!
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The only thing "The Learning Channel" has taught me is how terrible the culture of Voyeur Americans has become.
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The minute I remembered that I was first introduced to Kate Gosselin and spoiled pageant babies through TLC there was no way it was going to win.

BBC is better by default.
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BBC America without a second thought
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I always love it when people try to fool themselves into thinking they are better than others because they like stupid shit. "Look! It's Briitsh! Therefore even though I am not laughing, it still must be funny!"



Or maybe it is just stupid.
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Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, and the original Coupling are some of the funniest things ever created. They made me laugh. Often. Most American sitcoms don't get more than a smile out of me in half an hour. On the other hand, Community and Archer are hilarious, so was Better Off Ted, and the live action Tick. It's not that being British makes it better, its that good TV is rare, and BBCA gets to cherry pick all the best stuff from at least three channels, meaning its a fair bet its gonna have at least 3 times as much good stuff as any one channel.
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Easy, BBC America
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I get addicted to TLC easily, BUT I legitimately like watching stuff on BBC America. So I'm gonna have to go with BBC America, and for some reason, it was a bit of a close race. I know, I know shame on me ... :P
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Even the reruns are enough to make BBC America wins easily...
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It has to be BBC America. Even the reality shows are better than TLC. Just wait till they start showing reruns of House. Then it will be complete for a top tier British actor in an American roll to unite BBC America once and for all. haha
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BBC America easily
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bbc amra
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BBC America wins
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TLC wins this hands down mostly because everything on BBC American already aired 4-8 months before so anybody thats anyone has already seen everything its airing.
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duh BBC FTW doctor who is the best and it only comes on BBC America thank you british people for bring me david tennant and matt smith lol
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is it wrong of me to love toddlers and tiaras?
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YES.
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BBC America. TLC has way too much reality shows.
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BBC America without contest.
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No brainer: BBC America
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I don't even need the numbers for this one, I'm a Brit, which means I'm completely biased - added to the fact that TLC is possibly the worst channel there is and that equates to a BBC America landslide. But just in case you don't believe me, here are the numbers:



TLC: -100 for having 100 % "reality TV" content, -50 for Toddlers & Tiaras (which is THE MOST DEPLORABLE TV SHOW EVER CREATED) = -150



BBC America: +5 each for Top Gear, Being Human, Dr. Who, Luther, Outnumbered (which is brilliant), Robin Hood, Skins, +50 for back catalogue, +20 for reruns of US shows (particularly The X Files and Battlestar Galactica) and a bonus +5 for The Stig, but -10 for some "reality TV" = +100



That's a massive swing of 250 points, ring the bell, TLC is out for the count after the first 11 seconds.
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Well, BBCA definitely likes running way too many reality shows itself (lamentably), but at least they still manage to put on some quality fare now and then in between those disasters. However, I do wish they'd nix all the made-in-America programs. Doesn't virtually every other American channel already do that? That programming decision is a real poser. Does having a single actor or two with a British accent in an otherwise all-American show now somehow make it BBCA-worthy? (Answer: NO!) Hey, Idris Elba will always be Stringer Bell to me, accent or not, so will they also start showing "The Wire"? The BBC itself has a lot of great programs that never make it onto BBCA, so free up space for some genuinely British shows by getting rid of the stuff that has already been shown here dozens, if not hundreds, of times already.



I was a fan of The Learning Channel when there was actual learning to be had there. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. There lineup is 100% dreck now and I refuse to watch a single thing they air. I'm so sad to hear that their ratings are good. They certainly don't deserve it.



Obviously for me, BBCA for the win in this particular matchup.

More+
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The BBC, no contest.



Actually, can we just move on to the next matchup in the tournament? Pls?
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Isn't there a rule? What's that called, a shutout? I remember when I was a little kid and one team got like a million points ahead, they'd call the game to save the kids further humiliation.
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That would be called the Mercy Rule.
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There ya go, that's it (obviously am not a sportista). TV.com gods (also Price), you have been supplied a way out and can move onto the next one.
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I disagree, I say let TLC get the beating it deserves.
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BBC America, the amazingness of the channel completely dwarfs TLC. Even if you consider TLC's golden period of programming, you know pre sarah palin's alaska.
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I vote for BBC America. BBC America kicks TLC's arse.
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There's no question here, so I'm gonna use this space to thank BBC America for introducing my technologically backwards friends to the new Doctor Who, the original Being Human, Luther, Primeval, Jekyll and the original Coupling. For the couple of you that voted for TLC, you've obviously not watched these things. Go do that now.
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Trading Spaces was a BBC spinoff anyway.



...fine UK :)
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BBC America. Two words: Doctor Who.
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Don't you mean Inspector Spacetime?
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I loved that show, I believe it ran for 6 seasons and a movie :)
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I heard it's fans are so obnoxious they high jack conversations about other TV shows...
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....other shows like, Cougarton Abbey?
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BBC America, where would we be without Doctor Who?
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TLC :)
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BBC America by a long shot! But it needs to start playing Skins again!
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Definitely BBC America
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"BBC America by a mile"? Try 10 miles. A hundred! TLC appeals to the basest of humanity. The only show I watch with any regularity is What Not to Wear, which is pretty good. On BBC America I watch Doctor Who, The Graham Norton Show and limited run series like State of Play. Shows like that can't be beat. The only thing I can't figure out is why people want to watch so much Top Gear.
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This is not a contest. Just give it to BBC America so we can move on.
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BBCA hands down DR WHO (enough said) Primeval, the original TOP GEAR, BEING HUMAN(SY FY'S VERSION SUCKS) GRAHAM NORTON do I need to say more!! one last comment on the last match up just like in American Idol you got it wrong ABC FAMILY OVERALL IS MUCH BETTER THAN CARTOON NETWORK
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BBC America hands down.
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Definitely BBC. Cant get enoug of the British shows! Why are their shows so much better than ours???
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no contest... BBC's AWESOME!!!
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much as object to having to pay liscening fees for the BBC i do love the shows that come out and reading the comments (i think all but one were for BBC America) makes me very proud to be British (at least from a television point of view)
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