United Paramount Network (UPN)
The WB Television Network
The CW Television Network
MyNetworkTV

In January 2006, the United States' two "second-tier" television networks, UPN and The WB, announced they would both cease operations on September 15 and 17 respectively, and their operations would be transferred to a new joint-venture "fifth" network, The CW. Meanwhile, Fox Television Stations (which owned several UPN and WB-affiliated stations in large cities that were blocked from affiliating with The CW) signed up with MyNetworkTV, a new "sixth" network owned by then-parent company News Corporation's Fox Entertainment Group.

Background

In January 1995, The WB Television Network and the United Paramount Network (UPN) were launched, each hoping to recreate the success of the Fox network, which had launched in October 1986 and became one of America's "major" networks through the successes of several early series (such as The Simpsons, Married... with Children, The X-Files, Melrose Place, Martin, In Living Color, COPS, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Fox Kids' airings of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and its 1993 deal with the National Football League (NFL) to assume the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) from CBS.[1] Like with Fox at the time, The WB targeted a mostly teenage and young adult audience; UPN, however, aimed its programming at a broader demographic of adults between 18 and 49 years of age.

All three networks had been joint ventures between major Hollywood studios and large owners of previously independent stations – The WB was owned by the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner, in a joint venture with the Tribune Company, and UPN was founded by Chris-Craft Industries, in a programming partnership with Paramount Pictures. In October 1993, Chris-Craft and the Paramount Stations Group reached affiliation agreements with most of the independents owned by the respective groups to serve as charter UPN affiliates.[2] That November, Tribune cut affiliation deals with The WB for all eight independents it owned at the time (including stations in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago) – as well as a station in Boston that Tribune bought from the Gannett Company the following year, though only seven would join the network at launch due to the company's Atlanta station affiliating with CBS (its New Orleans station would follow suit in 1996, switching its affiliation to ABC); Chris-Craft and Paramount also each owned independents in large and mid-sized markets (with the former owning stations in New York City and Los Angeles).[3][4]

Both new networks launched to limited fanfare and generally poor results. Over the course of 11½ seasons, despite a number of minor-hit or cult-hit series such as Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed, 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Girlfriends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Moesha, Dawson's Creek, The Parkers, One on One, Roswell, and Kids' WB's airing of the anime Pokémon, neither network was able to attain the stature that Fox had gained in its first decade, much less that of the longstanding "Big Three" television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). By early 2006, both networks were losing money, although The WB had been profitable a few seasons earlier; in slight contrast, UPN had never turned a profit and had already lost $800 million in its first five years of operation.[5] Reports indicated that the prospects for both networks were fading quickly.

A further complication was the various shifts in network and affiliate ownership at UPN. Shortly before its launch, Paramount Pictures' corporate parent Paramount Communications was purchased by Viacom, which later purchased a 50 percent stake in UPN in December 1996, and acquired CBS in 2000.[6][7] Viacom was permitted to keep interests in both networks, in effect, resulting in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifting its long-standing ban on television station duopolies. Chris-Craft's relations with Viacom were strained in February 2000 when the latter firm exercised a contractual right to force Chris-Craft to either buy Viacom out of UPN, or sell its stake in the network to Viacom within a 45-day grace period. Chris-Craft subsequently filed a lawsuit against Viacom in the New York Supreme Court to block the CBS merger on grounds that a pact reached between Chris-Craft and Viacom in 1997 disallowed either company from owning "any interest, financial or otherwise" in "any competing network" through January 2001; however, New York Supreme Court judge Herman Cahn ruled against Chris-Craft's move for a permanent injunction motion in March 2000.[8][9][10] Chris-Craft could not find a suitable partner and sold its interest in UPN to Viacom for $5 million that April.[11][12][13] This had the adverse effect of making UPN one of the few networks not to have owned-and-operated flagship stations in New York City and Los Angeles.

Similarly, The WB had the distinction of being the only American broadcast network never to have had an O&O, as although minority owner Tribune operated its core charter stations, Time Warner held majority ownership in the network (with a maximum interest of 77.5 percent, during the final years of The WB's existence). Time Warner did acquire Atlanta independent WTBS (which served as the originating feed of then-superstation TBS) through its 1996 merger with the Turner Broadcasting System; however, WATL (which Tribune would acquire in 1999) served as the WB affiliate for that market throughout the network's run.

That August, when Chris-Craft put its television stations – most of them UPN affiliates – up for sale, it sold them to News Corporation's Fox Television Stations subsidiary instead of Viacom. At the time, Fox seemed to be a willing partner in UPN, but made no firm commitment.[14] On September 24, 2003, Fox Television Stations renewed affiliation agreements for its nine UPN stations for three years through 2006.[15] On December 31, 2005, Viacom split into two companies: a new company keeping the Viacom name (which took the original company's film and most of its cable television properties), and CBS Corporation (essentially the old Viacom renamed, which retained the broadcast properties, along with Showtime Networks). In this "split", ownership of UPN went to CBS Corporation.[16][17]

The new "fifth" and "sixth" networks

On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Time Warner announced they would shut down both UPN and The WB that fall. In place of these two networks, a new "fifth" network that would be jointly owned by both companies, would launch, with a lineup made primarily of the most popular programs from both The WB and UPN. The network was given the name "The CW Television Network" ("CW" representing the first letters in "CBS" and "Warner Bros.").[18][19][20][21][22]

The CW immediately announced ten-year affiliation agreements with 16 WB affiliates owned by Tribune Broadcasting, and 11 UPN owned-and-operated stations under CBS ownership, giving the new network coverage in all of the top 13 markets and a reach of 48 percent of the country.[23] The remaining affiliates were to be drawn from the pool of stations affiliated with UPN and The WB. The CW took on The WB's base scheduling model (two hours of prime time programming each Monday through Friday and five hours on Sundays, a two-hour daytime block on weekdays and a five-hour Saturday morning children's block), which was larger in scope compared to UPN, which aired prime time programming only on weekdays and a two-hour repeat block on weekends at the time of the CW announcement.

It was immediately clear that most media markets which had stations that were owned by Tribune would receive the CW affiliation, leaving Fox Television Stations, UPN's second largest affiliate group (after the UPN O&Os owned by CBS Television Stations), without any network programming during primetime hours. Rumors began to circulate that Fox would develop its own network for those affected stations and others left out in the merger.[24] The rumors proved true, and on February 22, 2006, Fox announced the launch of its own network, MyNetworkTV, a programming service meant to fill the two nightly primetime hours that would open up on its UPN and WB-affiliated stations after the start of The CW. Fox also offered the service to other stations.[25][26]

Stations

Main articles: List of The CW affiliates (table) and List of MyNetworkTV affiliates

Following the CW network announcement, the new network immediately announced ten-year affiliation agreements with the Tribune Company and CBS Television Stations. Tribune committed 16 stations – including its flagship broadcast stations WGN-TV in Chicago; KTLA in Los Angeles; and WPIX in New York City – that were previously affiliated with The WB,[23] while CBS committed 11 of its UPN stations – including WPSG in Philadelphia; KBCW in San Francisco; and WUPA in Atlanta. These stations combined to reach 48 percent of the United States. Both groups also owned several UPN- and WB-affiliated stations that did not join The CW in overlapping markets. As part of its agreement, Tribune agreed to divest its 22.5 percent ownership interest in The WB – a decision that the company made in part to avoid shouldering shutdown costs for the network[27] – and did not acquire an interest in The CW.

The CW and MyNetworkTV would eventually reach 95 percent of all television households in the United States. In markets where both UPN and WB affiliates operated, only one station became a CW affiliate or a MyNetworkTV affiliate. CW executives were on record as preferring the "strongest" stations viewership-wise among The WB and UPN's existing affiliates. However, as the reorganization was structured not as a merger in the legal sense, but as a new network launching concurrent with the shutdowns of The WB and UPN, The CW was not obligated by existing affiliations with The WB and UPN. It had to negotiate affiliation agreements from scratch with individual stations.

As a result, in some markets, the new CW affiliate or MyNetworkTV affiliate was a different station from either the former WB and UPN stations. In Helena, Montana, Ion Television affiliate KMTF became a CW station. In Las Vegas, Nevada, independent KFBT chose to affiliate with The CW. In Honolulu, Hawaii, The CW did not become available in the market until early December 2006, where it was carried on a digital subchannel of local Fox affiliate KHON-TV. The network also affiliated with some digital channels, mainly newly launched subchannels of a local Big Four affiliate, in several markets.

Under the new network, a new service called The CW Plus[28][29][30] began serving Nielsen markets with rankings of 100 and lower, featuring a pre-supplied master schedule of programs acquired from the syndication market in addition to CW network programming. The CW Plus is structured similarly to The WB 100+ Station Group, which supplied locally branded WB-affiliated cable channels.[31][32] In most cases, distribution for The CW Plus covers not only cable but broadcast television as well, including the digital subchannels discussed above.

On March 1, 2006, five stations – four WB affiliates and one UPN affiliate – were the first outside the core CBS and Tribune stations to sign affiliation deals with The CW.[33] By May 18, 2006, 174 stations had signed agreements to become affiliates of The CW and MyNetworkTV, reaching 105 million households and covering 95.3 percent of the country (the latter two figures excluding stations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Station groups that signed up a large number of their stations as CW affiliates included Pappas Telecasting Companies, ACME Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group, although many other large groups, including Hearst-Argyle Television, Clear Channel Communications and Belo Corporation had signed up selected stations. Sinclair signed deals to carry the networks in early May, despite reservations with The CW and MyNetworkTV reporting demands for reverse compensation.[34]

While WGN-TV in Chicago became a charter affiliate of The CW, its former national counterpart WGN America never aired programs from The CW through a formal affiliation when it operated as WGN-TV's out-of-market superstation feed prior to December 2014 (although it did carry reruns of select CW series in marathon form in 2013), as the network has sufficient enough affiliate coverage that The CW did not need to use the national WGN feed to carry its programming; WGN America had previously carried WB programming from that network's January 1995 launch until October 1999, when Tribune Broadcasting and Time Warner mutually decided that The WB's national broadcast coverage had increased to a level that allowed the WGN national feed to discontinue carrying the network.[1][35][36]

Several affiliates changed their call letters to reflect their new CW and MyNetworkTV affiliations; e.g., KPWB-TV in Des Moines became KCWI, WNPA-TV in Pittsburgh became WPCW, WJWB in Jacksonville became WCWJ, WHCP in Portsmouth, Ohio became WQCW, WEWB in Albany, New York became WCWN, KWCV in Wichita, Kansas became KSCW, WBDC in Washington, D.C. became WDCW, KBHK in San Francisco became KBCW, KHWB in Houston became KHCW. Some stations retained call signs that referred to UPN and The WB, such as WUPA in Atlanta and KWBA-TV in Tucson, Arizona, respectively. Between February and August 2006, News Corporation's MyNetworkTV stations and CBS Corporation's CW stations dropped all references to UPN and The WB from their branding.

Due to the availability of "instant duopoly" digital subchannels, and the overall lack of a need to settle for a secondary affiliation with shows aired in problematic timeslots, both The CW and MyNetworkTV launched with far greater national coverage than that enjoyed by UPN and The WB when they started in 1995. For several years, UPN had coverage gaps in the top 30 markets, and by 2005 had only managed to reach 86 percent of the population. This resulted in secondary affiliations with other networks (with some dual WB-UPN affiliates airing the latter network's programming immediately after The WB's primetime lineup, and vice versa) and diluted ratings when programs were shown out of their intended timeslots, or the lack of the program airing at all (a problem experienced by many Star Trek fans with Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise).

Stations involved in the realignment by market
Market Station Affiliation before switch Affiliation after switch Current affiliation
AbileneSweetwater KTXS-DT2 The CW
KXVA-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
AguadillaSan Juan WSJP-LD UPN / The WB The CW Fox
Albany, GA WSWG-DT2 MyNetworkTV MeTV
WSWG-DT3 The CW MyNetworkTV
AlbanySchenectadyTroy WEWB-TV The WB The CW
WNYA UPN MyNetworkTV
AlbuquerqueSanta Fe KWBQ The WB The CW
KRWB The WB The CW
KASY-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
Alexandria KBCA The WB The CW Heroes & Icons
WNTZ-TV Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
KALB-DT3 The CW
Amarillo KVII-DT2 The WB The CW
KVIH-DT2 The WB The CW
KCPN-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
Anchorage KYES-TV UPN MyNetworkTV CBS
KIMO-DT2 The CW
Atlanta WATL The WB MyNetworkTV
WUPA UPN The CW Independent
Augusta, GA WRDW-DT2 UPN NBC
WRDW-DT3 MyNetworkTV
WAGT-DT2 The CW Defunct
Austin, TX K13VC UPN Independent Defunct
KBVO NBC NBC MyNetworkTV
KNVA The WB The CW / MyNetworkTV The CW
Bakersfield KGET-DT2 The WB The CW
KUVI-TV UPN MyNetworkTV Quest
Baltimore WUTB UPN MyNetworkTV TBD
WNUV The WB The CW
Bangor WABI-DT2 The CW
WVII-DT2 Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
WFVX-LD Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
Baton Rouge WAFB-DT4 UPN MyNetworkTV
WBRL-CD The WB The CW
WBXH-CD UPN MyNetworkTV
WGMB-DT2 The WB The CW
BeaumontPort Arthur KFDM CBS / UPN CBS
KFDM-DT2 The WB The CW
KUMY-LP Independent MyNetworkTV NewsNet
Bend, OR KTVZ-DT2 The CW
KUBN-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
Billings KTVQ-DT2 The CW
BiloxiGulfport WXXV-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV NBC
Binghamton WBNG-DT2 The WB The CW
BirminghamAnnistonTuscaloosa WDBB The WB The CW
WTTO The WB The CW
WABM UPN MyNetworkTV
BluefieldBeckleyOak Hill WVVA-DT2 The WB The CW
WVNS-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
Boise KNIN-TV The WB The CW Fox
Boston WSBK-TV UPN Independent
WZMY-TV Independent MyNetworkTV True Crime Network
WLVI The WB The CW
Bowling Green WBKO-DT3 The WB The CW
Buffalo WNLO UPN The CW
WNYO-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
ButteBozeman KXLF-DT2 The CW
CasperRiverton K26ES UPN / i The CW MyNetworkTV / MeTV
Cedar RapidsWaterlooIowa CityDubuque KWKB The WB The CW / MyNetworkTV TCT
ChampaignSpringfieldDecatur WCIA-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WBUI The WB The CW
WCIX UPN MyNetworkTV
CharlestonHuntington WSAZ-DT2 MyNetworkTV
WHCP The WB / UPN The CW
Charleston, SC WCBD-DT2 The CW
WMMP UPN MyNetworkTV
Charlotte WWWB The WB MyNetworkTV
WJZY UPN The CW Fox
Charlottesville WAHU-CA2 MyNetworkTV WeatherNation TV
WVIR-DT3 The CW
Chattanooga WDEF-TV CBS / UPN CBS
WFLI The WB The CW
CheyenneScottsbluff K26ES UPN / i The CW MyNetworkTV / MeTV
Chicago WGN-TV The WB The CW Independent
WPWR-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
ChicoRedding KHSL-DT2 The WB The CW
KZVU-LD UPN MyNetworkTV
KRVU-LD UPN MyNetworkTV
Cincinnati WKRC-DT The CW
WBQC-CA UPN Independent Telemundo
WSTR-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
ClarksburgWeston WVFX-DT2 The WB The CW
ClevelandAkron WUAB UPN MyNetworkTV The CW
WBNX-TV The WB The CW Independent
Colorado SpringsPueblo KKTV-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KXTU-LP UPN The CW
ColumbiaJefferson City KOMU-DT3 The WB The CW
KMIZ-DT3 MyNetworkTV
Columbia, SC WZRB UPN The CW Ion
WKTC The WB MyNetworkTV
ColumbusTupeloWest PointHouston WCBI-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WCBI-DT3 The CW
Columbus, GA WXTX Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV Fox
WLGA UPN The CW Lx
Columbus, OH WSYX-DT2 MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV / This TV
WWHO UPN / The WB The CW
Corpus Christi KRIS-DT2 The CW
KTOV-LP UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
DallasFort Worth KTXA UPN Independent
KDFI Independent MyNetworkTV
KDAF The WB The CW
DavenportRock IslandMoline WQAD-DT3 UPN MyNetworkTV
KGWB-TV The WB The CW
Dayton WBDT The WB The CW
WRGT-DT2 MyNetworkTV
Denver KWGN-TV The WB The CW
KTVD UPN MyNetworkTV
Des MoinesAmes KDMI America One / MyNetworkTV TCT
KPWB-TV The WB The CW / MyNetworkTV The CW
Detroit WDWB The WB MyNetworkTV The CW
WKBD UPN The CW Independent
Dothan WTVY-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WTVY-DT3 The CW
DuluthSuperior KDLH-DT2 The WB The CW True Crime Network
KBJR-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV CBS
El Paso KDBC-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KVIA-DT2 The CW
Elmira WENY-DT3 The WB The CW
WJKP-LP MyNetworkTV
WYDC-DT2 MyNetworkTV
Erie WSEE-DT2 The CW
Eugene KMTR-DT2 The WB The CW
KUCW-DT2 The WB The CW
KEVU-CD Independent MyNetworkTV
KLSR-DT2 Independent MyNetworkTV
KMTX-DT2 The WB The CW
Eureka KECA-LD UPN The CW
KECA-LD2 UPN MyNetworkTV
Evansville WJPS-LP The WB The CW Defunct
WIKY-LP The WB The CW Defunct
WAZE-LP The WB The CW Defunct
WEVV-DT2 Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
WEEV-LD Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
WTSN-LP UPN MyNetworkTV Telemundo
Fairbanks KATN-DT2 The WB The CW Fox
Fargo KCPM UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
FlintSaginawBay City WNEM-DT2 MyNetworkTV
WEYI-DT2 The WB The CW
WBSF The WB The CW
Fort MyersNaples WTVK The WB The CW
Fort SmithFayettevilleSpringdaleRogers KFSM-DT2 The WB MyNetworkTV True Crime Network
KWFT The WB RTN MyNetworkTV
KPBI-CA Independent MyNetworkTV Defunct
Fort Wayne WPTA-DT2 The WB The CW NBC
WISE-DT2 MyNetworkTV True Crime Network
FresnoVisalia KAIL UPN MyNetworkTV TCT
KFRE The WB The CW
Gainesville WMYG-LP UPN / The WB MyNetworkTV Defunct
WGFL-DT2 UPN / The WB MyNetworkTV
Grand JunctionMontrose KREX-DT3 MyNetworkTV
KKCO-DT2 The CW MeTV
KGJT-CD UPN MyNetworkTV
Grand RapidsKalamazooBattle Creek WWMT-DT2 The CW
WXSP-CA UPN MyNetworkTV
Great Falls KRTV-DT2 The CW
KLMN UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
Green BayAppleton WIWB The WB The CW
WACY-TV UPN MyNetworkTV Independent
GreensboroHigh PointWinston-Salem WTWB-TV The WB The CW
WUPN-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
GreenvilleNew BernWashington WNCT-DT2 The CW
WPXU-TV i i / MyNetworkTV Ion
WEPX-TV i i / MyNetworkTV Ion
GreenvilleSpartanburgAshevilleAnderson WBSC-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
WASV-TV UPN The CW
HarrisburgLancasterLebanonYork WLYH-TV UPN The CW TBD
WHP-DT2 MyNetworkTV
Harrisonburg WHSV-DT4 MyNetworkTV
HartfordNew Haven WTXX The WB The CW
WCTX UPN MyNetworkTV
Helena KMTF The WB The CW PBS
Honolulu KHON-DT2 The CW
KFVE The WB MyNetworkTV
KAII-DT2 The CW
KGMD-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
KGMV The WB MyNetworkTV
KHAW-DT2 The CW
KIKU Independent / UPN Independent / Funimation Channel Independent
Houston KTXH UPN MyNetworkTV
KIAH The WB The CW
HuntsvilleDecatur WHDF UPN The CW
WZDX-DT2 The WB MyNetworkTV
Idaho FallsPocatello KPIF The WB The CW MeTV
Indianapolis WTTV The WB The CW CBS
WNDY-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
WTTK The WB The CW CBS
Jackson, MS WRBJ UPN The CW TBN
WUFX The WB MyNetworkTV
Jacksonville WJWB The WB The CW
WAWS-DT2 MyNetworkTV
JohnstownAltoonaState College WHVL-LD MyNetworkTV
Juneau KJUD-DT2 The CW
K17HC UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
Kansas City KCWE UPN The CW
KSMO-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
Knoxville WVLT-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WBXX The WB The CW
La CrosseEau Claire WKBT-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WQOW-DT2 The CW
WXOW-DT2 The CW
Lafayette, LA K58GA UPN MyNetworkTV NBC
KLWB The WB The CW MeTV
Lansing WHTV UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
WLAJ-DT2 The WB The CW
Laredo KGNS-DT2 The WB The CW ABC
Las Vegas KVMY The WB MyNetworkTV MeTV
KTUD-CA UPN Independent Defunct
KFBT The WB The CW
Lexington WKYT-DT2 UPN The CW
WBLU-LP Independent MyNetworkTV Defunct
Lima WOHL-CA Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV ABC
Lincoln–Hastings–Kearney KOLN-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV NBC
KGIN-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV NBC
KOWH The WB The CW Fox
Little Rock KASN UPN The CW
KWBF The WB MyNetworkTV
Los Angeles KTLA The WB The CW
KCOP-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
Louisville WBKI-TV The WB The CW
Lubbock KUPT-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
KWBZ-TV The WB The CW
Macon WMGT-DT2 MyNetworkTV
Madison WISC-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
WBUW The WB The CW Ion
Marquette WMQF Fox / UPN MyNetworkTV MeTV
Medford–Klamath Falls KFBI-LD UPN MyNetworkTV
Memphis WLMT The WB / UPN The CW The CW / MyNetworkTV
WPXX-TV i MyNetworkTV Ion
Meridian WTOK-DT3 The CW
Miami–Fort Lauderdale WBFS-TV UPN MyNetworkTV Independent
WBZL The WB The CW
Milwaukee WVTV The WB The CW
WCGV-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
Minneapolis–St. Paul KMWB The WB The CW
KFTC UPN MyNetworkTV
WFTC UPN MyNetworkTV Fox / MyNetworkTV
Missoula KMMF Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV Defunct
Mobile–Pensacola WFGX Independent MyNetworkTV
WBPG The WB The CW
Monroe–El Dorado KNOE-DT2 The CW ABC
KMCT-TV i MyNetworkTV Religious Independent
KEJB UPN MyNetworkTV Defunct
Monterey–Salinas KOTR-LP Independent MyNetworkTV
KION-DT2 The CW
Montgomery–Selma WBMM Daystar The CW
WRJM-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
Myrtle Beach–Florence WBTW-DT2 MyNetworkTV
WWMB UPN The CW
Nashville WUXP-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
WNAB The WB The CW Dabl
New Orleans WNOL The WB The CW
WUPL UPN MyNetworkTV
New York City WWOR-TV UPN MyNetworkTV
WPIX The WB The CW
Norfolk–Portsmouth–Newport News WGNT UPN The CW
WTVZ-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
Odessa–Midland KOSA-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV The CW
KWWT The WB The CW MyNetworkTV
Oklahoma City KOCB The WB The CW Independent
KAUT-TV UPN MyNetworkTV The CW
Omaha KXVO The WB The CW TBD
KPTM-DT2 MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV / Dabl
Orlando–Daytona Beach–Melbourne WKCF The WB The CW
WRBW UPN MyNetworkTV
Paducah–Cape Girardeau–Harrisburg WQWQ-LP UPN The CW
KFVS-DT2 UPN The CW
KBSI-DT2 The WB MyNetworkTV
WQTV-LP UPN The CW Defunct
WDKA The WB MyNetworkTV
Palm Springs KCWQ-LD The WB The CW
KESQ-DT3 The WB The CW
KPSE-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
Panama City WJHG-DT2 The WB The CW
Parkersburg W64CS-DT2 MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV / MeTV
Peoria–Bloomington WHOI-DT2 The CW Charge!
WAOE UPN MyNetworkTV Infomercials
Philadelphia WPHL-TV The WB MyNetworkTV The CW
WPSG UPN The CW Independent
Phoenix KUTP UPN MyNetworkTV
KASW The WB The CW Independent
Pittsburgh WNPA UPN The CW Independent
WCWB The WB MyNetworkTV The CW / MyNetworkTV
PortlandAuburn WPME UPN MyNetworkTV Ion
WPXT The WB The CW
Portland, OR KWBP The WB The CW
KPDX UPN MyNetworkTV
Providence–New Bedford WLWC The WB The CW Court TV
WNAC-DT2 MyNetworkTV The CW
Quincy–Hannibal–Keokuk WGEM-DT2 The WB The CW
Raleigh–Durham WLFL The WB The CW
WRDC UPN MyNetworkTV
Rapid City KCLO-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV The CW
KKRA-LP i MyNetworkTV NBC
KWBH-LP The WB The CW MyNetworkTV
Reno KAME-TV UPN MyNetworkTV Independent / MyNetworkTV
KREN-TV The WB The CW Univision
Richmond–Petersburg WRLH-DT2 MyNetworkTV
WUPV UPN The CW
Roanoke–Lynchburg WDBJ-DT2 Independent MyNetworkTV Circle
WJPR Fox The CW
WFXR-DT2 The CW
Rochester–Mason City–Austin KIMT-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KTTC-DT2 The WB The CW
Rochester, NY WHAM-DT2 The WB The CW
WBGT-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
Rockford WREX-DT2 The WB The CW
WTVO-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
Sacramento–Stockton–Modesto KMAX UPN The CW Independent
KQCA The WB MyNetworkTV The CW / MyNetworkTV
Salisbury WMDT-DT2 The WB The CW
Salt Lake City KJZZ Independent MyNetworkTV Independent
KPNZ UPN Independent Azteca América
KUWB The WB The CW
San Angelo KIDY-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KTXE-LD2 The CW
San Antonio KBEJ The WB The CW MyNetworkTV
KRRT UPN MyNetworkTV Dabl
San Diego–Tijuana XHUPN-TV UPN MyNetworkTV Milenio Televisión
KSWB-TV The WB The CW Fox
San Francisco KRON-TV Independent MyNetworkTV The CW / MyNetworkTV
KBWB The WB Independent Grit
KBHK-TV UPN The CW Independent
Santa BarbaraSanta MariaSan Luis Obispo KEYT-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KSBY-DT2 The WB The CW
Savannah WSAV-DT3 MyNetworkTV Court TV
WSCG UPN The CW TCT
Seattle–Tacoma KSTW UPN The CW Independent
KTWB-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
Sherman–Ada KTEN-DT2 The CW
KXII-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
Shreveport KPXJ UPN The CW
KSHV-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
Sioux City KTIV-DT2 The WB The CW
KPTH-DT2 MyNetworkTV
Sioux Falls KDLO-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
KPLO-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
KELO-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
KWSD The WB The CW Independent
South Bend WSBT-DT2 UPN Independent Fox
WAAT-LP The WB The CW
WCWW-LP Independent MyNetworkTV
Spokane KXLY-TV ABC / UPN ABC
KUUP-LP ABC / UPN MyNetworkTV ABC
KSKN The WB The CW
SpringfieldHolyoke WGGB-DT2 The Tube Fox / MyNetworkTV
Springfield, MO K15CZ UPN The CW ABC
K17DL UPN The CW Tourist Info.
KWBM The WB MyNetworkTV Daystar
St. Croix, USVI WCVI-TV UPN The CW CBS
St. Louis KPLR The WB The CW
WRBU UPN MyNetworkTV Ion
Syracuse WSTM-DT2 UPN The CW
WSTQ-LP UPN The CW Defunct
WNYS-TV The WB MyNetworkTV
Tallahassee–Thomasville WTLF The WB The CW
WFXU The WB The CW MeTV / MyNetworkTV
WTLH-DT2 The WB The CW
Tampa–St. Petersburg WTTA The WB MyNetworkTV The CW
WTOG UPN The CW Independent
Toledo WNGT-LP UPN MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV / Cozi TV
Topeka WIBW-DT2 MyNetworkTV
KSNT-DT2 The CW Fox
Tri-Cities, TN–VA WCYB-DT2 The WB The CW
WAPK-CA UPN MyNetworkTV MeTV
Tucson KTTU UPN MyNetworkTV
KWBA-TV The WB The CW
Tulsa KWBT The WB The CW
KTFO UPN MyNetworkTV
Twin Falls KMVT-DT2 The CW
TylerLongview KTPN-LP Independent MyNetworkTV
KCEB The WB The CW Azteca América
Utica WKTV-DT2 The WB The CW CBS
WPNY-LP UPN MyNetworkTV
WUTR-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
Victoria K39HB The WB The CW Defunct
KXTS-LP UPN MyNetworkTV CBS
WacoTempleBryan KBTX-DT2 UPN The CW
KWTX-DT2 UPN The CW Telemundo
Washington, DC WDCA UPN MyNetworkTV
WBDC-TV The WB The CW
Watertown WWTI-DT2 The WB The CW
WausauRhinelander WSAW-DT2 MyNetworkTV MyNetworkTV / MeTV
WAOW-DT2 The WB The CW Catchy Comedy
WYOW-DT2 The WB The CW Defunct
West Palm BeachFort Pierce WTVX UPN The CW
WTVX-DT3 The WB MyNetworkTV
WTCN-CA The WB MyNetworkTV
Wichita FallsLawton KFDX-DT2 UPN MyNetworkTV
KAUZ-DT2 The WB The CW
KBJO-LD UPN MyNetworkTV
WichitaHutchinson KWCV The WB The CW
KSCC UPN MyNetworkTV
Wilkes-BarreScrantonHazleton WSWB The WB / UPN The CW
WILF The WB / UPN MyNetworkTV
WQMY-DT3 The CW
WOLF-DT2 The CW
WOLF-DT3 MyNetworkTV
Wilmington W47CK MyNetworkTV Defunct
YakimaPascoRichlandKennewick KAZW-TV Azteca América The CW Defunct
Youngstown WFMJ-DT2 The WB The CW
WYTV-DT2 MyNetworkTV
YumaEl Centro KECY-TV Fox Fox / MyNetworkTV
KSWT-DT2 The CW NBC

Repercussions

Comparisons to 1994 realignment

The WB and UPN were the first major television networks to shut down since the collapse of the DuMont Television Network in 1956, although other small broadcast television networks have also ceased operations over the years. Given the merger of the two networks to create The CW (as well as the eventual launch of MyNetworkTV and the proliferation of digital subchannels), the scope of the realignment caused the largest single shakeup in American broadcast television since the Fox/New World Communications alliance of 1994, which preceded the subsequent launches of UPN and The WB the following year that drastically reduced the number of independent television stations in the U.S., some of which had been marketed and distributed as superstations as recently as the mid-1990s.

While The CW's debut affected more markets, unlike the Fox/New World deal of the mid-1990s, it was unlikely to cause the same degree of viewer confusion as almost no affiliates of the four major networks dropped those affiliations to become CW affiliates. Only two former Big Four affiliates switched their primary affiliation, in both cases from Fox to MyNetworkTV:

There were several other cases where Big Four affiliates picked up The CW, MyNetworkTV, or both as a secondary affiliation on their main channel or as a digital subchannel affiliation, even in markets where viable non-network affiliate stations remained.

Network affiliation repercussions

In media markets where there were separate affiliates of The WB and UPN, one local station was left out in the merger. Many of these stations signed with MyNetworkTV including the vast majority of the Fox stations acquired in the 2001 acquisition of BHC Communications (the former Chris-Craft stations). Additionally, MyNetworkTV signed with three Tribune stations that did not take the CW affiliation: WPHL in Philadelphia, WATL in Atlanta and KTWB in Seattle. Tribune had indicated interest in Fox-developed programming blocks such as MyNetworkTV for stations that did not pick up the CW affiliation; the company announced on May 15 that the aforementioned stations would join MyNetworkTV.[37][38] In contrast, CBS initially seemed more hostile to MyNetworkTV, and announced its remaining UPN affiliates – KTXA in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, WSBK-TV in Boston, WBFS-TV in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, and WUPL in New Orleans as well as WB affiliate WTCN-CA in West Palm Beach – would all become independents. Four of the five stations, excluding KTXA, eventually all joined MyNetworkTV.[39][40]

Some stations bypassed by The CW that did not take MyNetworkTV instead opted to become (or revert to) independents. For example, the two remaining former Viacom-owned UPN stations – WSBK and KTXA – reverted to their roots as independents (the latter was constrained to independence in any event due to Fox-owned KDFI, affiliating with MyNetworkTV). As a consequence, in three of the top 10 media markets – Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Francisco – programs from The WB, UPN and MyNetworkTV were all available to viewers from September 5 to 17. MyNetworkTV affiliated with longtime former independents WZMY in Derry, New Hampshire (serving the Boston market)[41] and KDFI, while in San Francisco the network affiliated with KRON-TV; WB affiliate KBWB reverted to independent status.[42] Other stations elected to become (or revert to) independents as well, particularly in situations where either more than two non-major network affiliate stations existed or another station picked up an affiliation with The CW or MyNetworkTV via a digital subchannel.

Additionally, four former UPN affiliates became affiliates of "Big Four" networks themselves:

Additionally, while some stations joined newly established or lesser-known broadcast networks such as RTV), whose now-defunct parent company Equity Broadcasting did not commit any of its WB affiliates to The CW, other stations (mainly digital subchannels, cable channels such as those that were WB 100+ cable channels, and struggling low-power stations) which received neither The CW nor the MyNetworkTV affiliation opted instead to cease operations entirely. For example, in Dayton, Ohio, the "UPN17" cable channel run by CBS affiliate WHIO-TV closed down at the end of 2006.

Many households around the country were not able to see The CW when it launched, because stations in several markets that agreed to carry the station on a digital subchannel were unsuccessful in securing deals with Time Warner Cable to carry these subchannels on basic cable lineups. These markets included Cincinnati, Honolulu, Charleston, South Carolina, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Palm Springs and Lima, Ohio.[43]

In Cincinnati, eventual independent WBQC-LP moved UPN programming on July 4 to the early morning hours, with the intention of promoting the station's "Independence Day" programming in its place.[44] Before the merger, Granite Broadcasting Corporation agreed to sell KBWB and WDWB to AM Media, a unit of private equity firm ACON Investments; as The CW affiliated with KBCW and WKBD, respectively, the Granite-AM Media deal collapsed, prompting Granite to sue CBS and Time Warner over the failed deal.[45] In New Orleans, CBS sued Belo in February 2006, alleging Belo tried to back out of a deal for WUPL after Tribune-owned WNOL was named the market's CW affiliate, but before WUPL's affiliation with MyNetworkTV was announced. The deal, already complicated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, would create a duopoly between Belo's WWL-TV and WUPL.[46]

Closing UPN and The WB

UPN quietly ceased operations on September 15, 2006, by fading to black after its usual airing of WWE Friday Night SmackDown!; however, the Fox-owned lame-duck UPN affiliates dropped the network entirely on August 31 in order for MyNetworkTV to launch on September 5. Because of this, UPN was entirely unavailable for its final two weeks in those markets; as a result, SmackDown was on several Tribune-owned charter CW affiliates, including WPIX, KTLA, and WGN, per an earlier arrangement with the WWE.[47][48]

The WB closed on September 17 with The Night of Favorites and Farewells, a five-hour block of pilot episodes of the network's past signature series, including Felicity, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek. Commercial breaks shown on the network that evening featured re-airings of past image campaigns and network promotions, promo spots given to cable networks that carried these shows in off-network syndication, as well as ads for each series' TV-on-DVD box set.[49][50] The final night of WB programming, which aired against NBC Sunday Night Football, netted low ratings.[51]

Post-realignment

After launching, The CW usually finished fifth in the Nielsen ratings and even fell behind Spanish-language network Univision at times.[52] While the network had some successful series such as Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, concerns over The CW's future led Tribune to rebrand their CW affiliates in a way that deemphasized its network affiliation.[53] Pappas Telecasting Companies cited The CW's poor performance as a factor in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.[54] In September 2008, The CW outsourced its five-hour Sunday block to Media Rights Capital (MRC); the network dropped its Sunday night lineup in 2009 and would not air on that night until 2018, with only two hours to program.[55][56][57][58]

The CW's ratings struggles eventually subsided in later years: the network beat NBC for the first time in the key 18–49 demographic for a single calendar night on November 21, 2013.[59] Other recent series successes (including the revival of the U.S. version of the improv comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Flash and Jane the Virgin) helped The CW increase its ratings year-over-year by the 2014–15 season – at which point, The CW posted its highest season average total viewership since the 2007–08 season with 2.15 million.[60][61]

MyNetworkTV struggled to gain an audience upon its launch. Due to its consistently low ratings with their initial program lineup of telenovelas and its 2007 retool to include more unscripted programming (including televised martial arts events) and movies, MyNetworkTV became a rerun-focused syndication service in 2009.[62][63][64] The service's last first-run program, SmackDown, moved to Syfy and USA Network in October 2010.[65]

Nexstar Media Group, which acquired Tribune Media in 2019 after a prior failed merger attempt with Sinclair Broadcast Group,[66] acquired a 75-percent ownership stake in The CW on October 3, 2022; former joint owners Paramount Global (successor to CBS Corporation) and Warner Bros. Discovery (successor to Time Warner) retained a 25-percent stake, split at nominal 12.5-percent stakes for both companies.[67] Under the agreement, Paramount was given a right with the transaction to disaffiliate all eight of their CW affiliates, which was exercised on May 5, 2023.[68] By the time of the disaffiliations on September 1, Nexstar repatriated the CW affiliations onto their MyNetworkTV affiliates in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Tampa–St. Petersburg,[69] announced the purchase of Detroit station WADL through affiliate company Mission Broadcasting,[70] and signed long-term agreements with Hearst Television,[71] Gray Television,[72] Sinclair Broadcast Group,[73] and the E. W. Scripps Company.[74]

See also

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