United States

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of America (USA)


Country Number (34) 1972 SECOND WAVE
Region North America
Television commenced 1941
Colour System 1953 NTSC
Language/s English

Television Stations / Channels

PBS logo, from 1970s

After a slow start in August 1972, but not really kicking off until August 1978, the series has aired on a multitude of commercial, non-commercial, independent, network affiliated, cable and PBS stations (Current PBS member stations) in all but a few of the states.

From 1972 to 1981, the series was distributed by Time-Life Films/Television, the film and TV division of Time-Life Inc. From 1981, the distributor was Lionheart Television International Inc.


The USA was the 34th country to screen Doctor Who. It was the second in North America, after Canada.



The first of the two Peter Cushing Dalek movies screened on cinemas across the country in 1966 and 1967, with a re-release in 1986. The second film is not distributed, instead going straight to television in 1969.

BBC Records

The Seventies records a sale of "(13)" stories by 28 February 1977. This tally is for the first batch of Jon Pertwee stories sold from 1972.

The Eighties - THE LOST CHAPTERS records a sale of "(118)" stories (by 10 February 1987). This tally is made up of:


The following introductory bullet-points are expanded on in the full Chronology of Doctor Who in the United States:

First station to screen each Doctor

As best that can be determined, the viewers in the following states were the first to see each of the first seven Doctors:

Doctor Station Market Date
Jon Pertwee WPHL Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 21 August 1972
Tom Baker WTEV Massachusetts 28 August 1978
Peter Davison WTTW Chicago, Illinois 24 April 1983
Jon Pertwee (partial repackage) WTTW Chicago, Illinois 12 June 1983
Jon Pertwee (full repackage) WILL Urbana, Illinois 4 December 1984
William Hartnell NJN New Jersey 7 September 1985
Colin Baker NJN New Jersey 26 October 1985
Patrick Troughton NJN New Jersey 1 February 1986
Sylvester McCoy NJN New Jersey 9 January 1988

Markets Across the USA

Doctor Who now sold to 146 markets; Variety, 10 April 1985

This table charts the sales of Doctor Who, initially by Time-Life Television, and later Lionheart. (NOTE: The figures are from published reports, and therefore may contain a small degree of hyperbole...)

Sales reached a peak of 200+ by late 1987, but less than a year later, as the syndication prices increased, sales began to drop alarmingly.

Year US Markets Notes
1972-1977 16 13 Jon Pertwee stories only
1978 (Aug) 17 First 23 Tom Baker stories only
1978 (Sept) over 50 Still only first 23 Tom Baker stories
1979 (end) 65 Still only first 23 Tom Baker stories
1980 (mid) 97 Still only first 23 Tom Baker stories
1981 (May) Lionheart takes over distribution, all 41 Baker stories on offer
1982 (end) 9 million viewers
1983 (Nov) 80 station link up for The Five Doctors
1984 (Jan) 112 9.5 million viewers (noted in TV Guide)
1985 (May) 146 70% of population (b/w eps now on offer)
1987 (Feb) 185+ during Doctor Who USA Tour promotion
1987 (Sep) 200+ (*) 74% of population
1988 sales dropping / Sylvester McCoy stories are over-priced
1992 Lionheart gives distribution rights to SCI-FI Channel
1998 fewer than 12
2010s no more than 10 few terrestrial stations, more online and streaming
2020s no less than 3 only a handful of terrestrial stations remain, number of streaming platforms reduce
  • (*) In view of the falling sales from 1988, we suspect 200 is but a rounding-up of the "over 185" cited in promotional material that was released in early 1987 -- see United States--1987.
  • BroaDWcast has so far identified just over 140 of the 185+ stations (half of which also have an Airdates Table), so we still have a bit of a way to go!
    • Note: In arriving at our total of over 140, we've counted each of the larger statewide Networks - such as Iowa's IPTV, Maine's MPBN, and Wisconsin's public network - as "one". In arriving at their figure of 185, did Lionheart also count each Network as "one market", or did they include the individual stations within each Network? (This distinction is quite important, especially in view of the fact that the travelling Doctor Who USA Tour exhibition was to have visited all the major markets between 1986 and 1988.) If the latter, our total would increase significantly, putting us much closer to the 160+ mark. Or maybe we've already identified all 185, but haven't realised it..?

(Information in the chronology is taken from reports in DWM, DWB, Celestial Toyroom, Data Extract, Fantasy Image, Starlog, Doctor Who Marvel (US), Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fantastic Films, Fangoria, Enterprise Incidents, Enlightenment, and various online sites.)


This category has the following 53 subcategories, out of 53 total.