THE CW STRUGGLES TO SUCCEED
On Wednesday night Tyra Banks and the girls of "America's Next Top Model" officially launched The CW, a new network in the US created by CBS and Warner Bros. whose former ventures The WB and UPN created enormous losses and merged to establish a new and hopefully stronger player on the TV market.
The CW will be available in 93% of the country, but in many local markets, viewers will be confused. Some of the CW affiliates today belonged to UPN in the past, some to The WB and some to neither network. That means your favorite WB show might now be seen on a former UPN affiliate. Or not. Or vice versa. Or neither.
For this reason, the new network's strategy was clear - take the most popular shows of the two now-defunct networks and create a new powerful prime time line-up filled with familiar faces, add only a couple of new shows and spend the marketing budget promoting the network, not its programming. That may have saved tens of millions of dollars.
The merger was not painless. The two networks employed about 500 people and as many as half of them lost their jobs. The new workforce, however, is an even mix of employees from both The WB and UPN. and they will be moving to CW's new headquarters in Burbank.
In the course of their 11-year existence, the two networks lost $2 billion as they battled each other for their share of the 18-34 audience that they were after with their youth-oriented programming.
The highest rated show on The WB's schedule "7th Heaven", for example, lost $16 million last season alone. But, it is the signature drama that can drive audience to the new network and with a smaller cast who agreed to pay cuts, it will be back for at least 13 new episodes this season.
The programming budget of the new network is about $500 million and the CW's sales team managed to sell 85% of the network's advertising inventory for as much as $640 million. That means the new network is on a good way to do what CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told them to do - make money.
If the network manages to eclipse the 3 million viewers that the former networks used to pull in on average they may well be on to something. For the time being, Tyra and the girls are doing just fine - the first installment of "America Next Top Model" surpassed last year's season opener on UPN by 10%.
Labels: The CW