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Not WB Nor UPN

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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 9:22 pm    Post subject: Not WB Nor UPN Reply with quote

Not WB Nor UPN
Published: May 2, 2006

Only two months after announcing the start-up of the CW network the result of a merger in January of two struggling part-time networks, WB and UPN executives from CBS and Warner Brothers met with the marketing department of their new entity, expecting to make a radical change.

"We walked into that meeting ready to throw out the name CW," said Barry Meyer, the chairman of Warner Brothers. "We'd gotten so much grief from everybody. What does it mean? What is it?"

Good question. Some people thought CW might stand for "the country western network," said Leslie Moonves, the chairman of the CBS Corporation, who along with Mr. Meyer will oversee the new network. Other people suggested it might be "the conventional wisdom network."

Mr. Moonves explained that the CW name had been thrown together hurriedly because of the rushed nature of the merger last winter. The C came from CBS and the W from Warner Brothers. "And we certainly weren't going to call it the WC network," Mr. Moonves said.

Name aside, the prime purpose for establishing what both Mr. Meyer and Mr. Moonves hope will be a fifth major broadcast network is to ensure that the production studios each company owns, Warner Brothers Television and CBS/Paramount Television, will have a distribution outlet to make long-term assets out of the studios' programs.

One crucial decision that sealed the merger was an agreement that whenever a studio owned by the network's parents gets a show onto CW, the other studio will gain a 50 percent share in it.

But making the network credible to its prime audience of teenagers and young adults is critical to its success, the two executives said, and to do so CW will need to put on the best programs available in the marketplace, not merely ones owned by the parent companies.

So outside studios, including Touchstone owned, like ABC, by the Walt Disney Company and NBC Universal Television, also have pilot projects at CW.

Mr. Moonves emphasized that as a new network, CW wants to add at least a few new shows, if only to signal that it has something of its own to offer.

"At CBS scheduling meetings, I always say: Don't fall in love with the new girl, don't get carried away," Mr. Moonves said. "With the CW, I might say: It's O.K. to fall in love with the new girl, instead of the old wife."

The new network has seven pilots under consideration, four from studios not owned by one of the network's two parent companies.

Dawn Ostroff, the president of entertainment and chief programmer, said some of the promising shows included "Aquaman," a drama holdover from WB, and a comedy from Paramount, "She Said, He Said," starring Jessica Simpson's estranged husband, the gossip magazine superstar Nick Lachey.

From other studios, the network is looking at a reality show about forming a new all-girl singing group and a comedy from NBC Universal, "Aliens in America," about a Muslim exchange student moving in with a Wisconsin family.

The latter show reflects one strategic goal of the new network: trying to match its programming with the diversity of its intended audience. Ms. Ostroff said research the network had seen underscored how extremely diverse the 18-to-34-year-old television audience is.

"Thirty-five percent are minorities," she said. "And it's a big audience. There are 72 million Americans from the age of 25 down. That's the biggest group since the Baby Boomers."

For all the effort to carve out a new identity, however, much of what will be introduced this month on the first CW schedule is expected to be quite familiar to both advertisers and viewers.

"We could probably build a stand-pat schedule," Mr. Moonves said, noting that there were already enough shows working on WB and UPN to cherry-pick a cross section from each and fill the 13 hours that CW will program in prime time.

CW is not making anything official yet, but among the shows that Mr. Moonves and Ms. Ostroff said would almost surely be included on the new schedule are "America's Next Top Model" and "Everybody Hates Chris" from UPN and "Gilmore Girls" and "Smallville" from WB.

Other probable contenders include "Veronica Mars," and several of the shows from the Monday night UPN comedy lineup of "One on One, " All of Us," "Girlfriends," and "Half and Half" as well as "Supernatural" and "Beauty and the Geek" from WB.

But marrying the two part-time networks will not be as easy as simply picking the most popular shows. For one thing, each network had quite different identities.

Shari Anne Brill, vice president and director of programming for Carat USA, a media buying firm, said that CW faced a serious challenge in making its shows appeal across the broad demographic it hopes to reach.

"The WB was not especially diverse creatively," she said, pointing to the lineup of angst-ridden, virtually all-white teenage-oriented shows that have dominated its programming.

By contrast, UPN grouped a batch of comedies with African-American casts on Mondays, giving it a stronger appeal to black viewers. But it has had more problems than WB in getting high prices for its programs.

WB took in about twice as much money from advertisers during the last upfront sales period. Now the two networks will have their shows mixed together. "We have to find the right flow," Ms. Ostroff said.

Still, there is no dispute over the necessity, from a business perspective, of combining the two struggling networks, analysts said.

"It was absolutely the right decision to merge," said Michael A. Kupinski, a media analyst with A. G. Edwards. Each network was losing money on its own, he pointed out. But mixing the networks, he cautioned, does not necessarily mean the new entity will instantly be more successful than the two were separately.

"One and one does not necessarily equal two in this case," Mr. Kupinski said or even 1.5, he added.

Mr. Moonves agreed that simply putting the two networks together did not mean that the audiences from each would also merge. Some viewers will simply be set free and could migrate to other networks. Fox, as the other network with the youngest audience profile, could well enjoy some ratings bounce out of the change.

"We're making no predictions" about how CW will do in its first year, Mr. Moonves said. But he came awfully close.

"Day 1, we're going to be profitable at the network," he said. "Day 2, the stations we are on will be much stronger. And Day 3 we're going to have great programs that we'll each co-own. So that's a winner on three different levels."

So what about the name? At the meeting in March, the marketing department offered a list of about 15 potential names.

The selections were aimed at being as hip as possible: the Evo network; the Now network. There was a proposal to call it NXTV (as in "Next TV") or XYTV (for the audience generations being spoken to), or something even more avant-garde: the Angle network.

Then the market research people chimed in. Based only on the attention the announcement of the merged new network had received, the name CW had achieved a national awareness level of a surprising 48 percent, according to their own surveys.

"It took us three years to reach a level like that with the WB," Mr. Meyer said.

So much for Angle or XYTV. When executives from the new network meet this month with advertisers at the sales presentations known as the upfronts, it will be as the CW network. Asked his goal for CW this season, Mr. Meyer said, "Two brand-new hit shows."

But Mr. Moonves, knowing how fickle the audience is, was not so demanding. "I'd take one," he said.

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The CW" doesn't really roll off the tongue. Either does "Angle Network"!

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it'll take a while for it to develope as a brand.

I'm just hoping that Supernatural get's a second season. Sourire
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Little Dreamer
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Joined: 13 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a radical idea. Why don't have shows altinate weeks until January. What I mean is one show would air every two weeks, except for the mega hit shows like "Everybody Hates Chris." I am only talking about the bubble shows. And what shows get the best rating will stay on the air.

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