UPN AND THE WB SHUT DOWN
Last night the UPN television network went off air in the US. Tomorrow night its arch rival the WB will do the same. A chapter in US television history will have come to a conclusion. Come Monday, an all new network - The CW will arise from their ashes.
On January 11, 1995 Warner Brothers and Tribune Company began their joint venture The WB Television Network, as the fifth TV network in the United States. Just five days later, Paramount Studios and Chris Craft Industries launched their own TV network - UPN.
But, the question remained - was the market big enough for six television networks in the US? After all, the market was dominated by The Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC) and FOX (established in 1987) was still trying to establish itself as a solid alternative to the Big Three. The answer came 11 years later, on January 24, 2006 and it was a loud a clear - NO.
Over the past 11 years, the two netlets battled each other focusing on the 18-34 audience and spawning a number of hit shows that became popular all over the world (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Felicity, Dawson's Creek, Charmed, Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, 7th Heaven on the WB and Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Roswell, Moesha, America's Next Top Model, Veronica Mars, WWE Smackdown, Everybody Hates Chris on UPN).
On January 24, 2006 CBS (the parent company of UPN) and Warner Brothers announced plans to merge the two struggling networks into a new network the CW. For months, fans had speculated which of the most popular shows would make it onto the new network schedule.
When the new schedule was announced in May, the new network president Dawn Ostroff was attacked by fans of the cult drama Everwood over her decision to resurrect the already cancelled 7th Heaven as they believed the Spelling-produced morality play took the last precious spot on the crowded CW schedule effectively cancelling Everwood for good. Dawn Ostroff responded pointing to 7th Heaven's superior ratings.
Now, the time has come for CW to find its audience and prove it can use the premium assets of the two discontinued networks to build a strong alternative to the Big Four. It will be an uphill battle as many viewers still have no idea what CW is or where to find it.
For those who care - the WB airs its very last night of programming on Sunday, September 17, 2006 with a special line-up of pilot episodes of its greatest hits: Felicity (5-6pm), Angel (6-7pm), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (7-9pm) and Dawson's Creek (9-10pm).
The new network the CW launches on Monday, September 18 at 8/7c. For a list of local affiliates visit the CW website www.cwtv.com