|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|The CW Television Network|
|Type||Broadcast television network|
|Country||United States, Canada|
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, United States|
|Owner||The CW Network, LLC(CBS Corporation (50%)
Warner Bros. (50%)
|Mark Pedowitz (President),
Kevin Tsujihara (Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros.),
Leslie Moonves (President/CEO, CBS Corporation),
(Executive Vice President),
(Executive Vice President of Development),
Rick Haskins (Executive Vice President of Marketing and Digital Programs),
Rob Tuck (Executive Vice President for National Ad Sales)
|September 18, 2006|
The CW Television Network (commonly shortened to The CW) is an American broadcast television network that launched on September 18, 2006. It is a limited liability joint venture between CBS Corporation, the former owners of the United Paramount Network (UPN), and Time Warner subsidiary Warner Bros. Entertainment, former majority owner of The WB Television Network. The "CW" name is derived from the first letters of the names of these corporations (CBS and Warner Bros.).
The network made its debut after its two predecessors, UPN and The WB, respectively ceased independent operations on September 15 and September 17, 2006. The CW's first two nights of programming – on September 18 and 19, 2006 – consisted of reruns and launch-related specials. The CW marked its formal launch date on September 20, 2006, with a two-hour season premiere of America's Next Top Model. The network's programming lineup is intended to appeal to people ranging in age from 18 to 34-years-old. The network currently runs programming six days a week: Monday through Fridays in the afternoon and in primetime, along with a Saturday morning children's programming block produced by Saban Brands called Vortexx.
The CW is also available in Canada on cable, satellite and IPTV providers through stations owned-and-operated by CBS Corporation and affiliates that are located within proximity to the Canada–United States border (whose broadcasts of CW shows are subject to simultaneous substitution laws, if a Canadian network holds broadcast rights), and through three affiliates owned by the Tribune Company that are classified in that country as superstations – including the local feed of Chicago affiliate WGN-TV.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 Differences between The CW and the "Big Four" networks
- 4 Affiliates
- 4.1 Launch repercussions
- 4.2 Affiliate issues
- 4.3 Station standardization
- 5 The CW HD
- 6 Marketing and multimedia
- 7 See also
- 8 Footnotes
- 9 External links
The CW Television Network is a successor to The WB and the United Paramount Network (UPN), both of which launched within one week of each other in January 1995. However, both networks can be seen as descendants of the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN), which launched in 1993 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and Chris-Craft Industries. The two companies later became partners in The WB and UPN (UPN in conjunction with Viacom, The WB in a joint venture with the Tribune Company), with PTEN continuing as a separate syndication service until it folded in 1997. Both UPN and The WB started just as the Fox network had begun to secure a foothold with American television audiences. Both launched to limited fanfare and generally poor results. However, over the subsequent 11½ seasons, both networks were able to air several series that became quite popular (such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Voyager, 7th Heaven and Dawson's Creek).
Towards the end of their first decade on the air, both television networks were in decline, unable to reach the audience or have the effect that Fox had gained within its first decade, much less than that of the Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC). In the eleven years that UPN and The WB were on the air, the two networks lost a combined $2 billion. Rather than facing questionable futures as separate networks, executives from CBS and Time Warner announced on January 24, 2006, that they would respectively shut down UPN and The WB and combine resources to form a new broadcast network, to be known as The CW Television Network, that would – at the outset – feature programming from both of the new network's predecessors-to-be, as well as new content developed specifically for The CW.
CBS chairman Les Moonves explained that the name of the new network was formed from the first letters of CBS and Warner Bros, joking, "We couldn't call it the WC for obvious reasons." Although some executives reportedly disliked the new name, Moonves stated in March 2006 that there was "zero chance" the name would change, citing research claiming 48% of the target demographic were already aware of the CW name. Upon the network's launch, The CW chose to use the scheduling model used by The WB due in part to the fact that it had a larger total of weekly programming hours than UPN (The WB carried 30 hours of programming weekly due to it having a children's program block and a daytime lineup that UPN did not offer; UPN was primarily a primetime-only network with 12 weekly hours of network programming at the time of the network's shutdown).
Like both UPN and The WB, The CW targets its programming towards younger audiences. CBS and Time Warner hoped that combining their networks' schedules and affiliate lineups would strengthen The CW into a fifth "major" broadcast network. One week before the network's official launch, on September 11, 2006, a new, full version of the network website, www.cwtv.com, was launched; the website began to feature more in-depth information of CW shows.
The CW launched with a premiere special/launch party from CBS-produced Entertainment Tonight at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California on September 18, 2006, after a repeat of the 10th season finale of 7th Heaven; the same schedule was repeated on September 19, 2006 with the sixth season finale of Gilmore Girls. The network continued to air season finales from the previous season through the rest of the first week, except for America's Next Top Model and WWE SmackDown, which began their new seasons on September 20 and September 22 respectively, with full-night premieres. When America's Next Top Model launched on September 20, 2006, The CW scored a 3.4 rating/5 share (with hourly ratings of 3.1/5 and 3.6/6; The CW placed fifth overall) in the Nielsen household ratings. It scored a 2.6 rating among Adults 18–49, finishing fourth in that demographic and beating Fox's 2.2. The network's second week consisted of season and series premieres for all of its other series from September 25 to October 1, with the exception of Veronica Mars, which debuted its third season on October 3.
On May 9, 2008, The CW announced it would lease its Sunday lineup (5:00–10:00 p.m. Eastern Time) to production company Media Rights Capital (MRC). As Sundays had historically been a low-rated night for the network during its first two seasons on the air, the move allowed The CW to concentrate on its Monday–Friday primetime schedule, while giving MRC the right to develop and schedule programs of its own choosing and reap ad revenue generated by its lineup. The Sunday series that were scheduled – two reality series (4Real and In Harm's Way) and two scripted series (Valentine and Easy Money) – performed poorly in the ratings (averaging only 1.04 million viewers), prompting The CW to scrap its agreement with MRC and program Sunday nights on its own starting on November 30, 2008 – with no backup first-run programming available to run on Sundays, the network added reruns of The Drew Carey Show and Jericho, and movies to replace the MRC-produced programs.
One of the shows carried over to the network from UPN, WWE Friday Night SmackDown, ended its run on The CW after the September 26, 2008 episode due to negotiations ending between the WWE and The CW on renewing the program. Representatives for The CW later confirmed that it had chosen not to continue carrying SmackDown because the network had redefined its target audience as exclusively females 18- to 34-years-old, whereas Smackdown targeted a predominately male audience – although it continued to air some shows that targeted male viewers such as Smallville and Supernatural. Following Smackdown's move to MyNetworkTV that same season, the Fox-owned network (which launched the same month as The CW's debut) began beating The CW in the Friday ratings every week from that program's debut on the network, though The CW continued to beat MyNetworkTV overall. SmackDown would eventually leave broadcast television altogether in October 2010, when the program moved to the Syfy cable channel.
The CW has generally struggled in the Nielsen ratings since its inception, primarily placing fifth in all Nielsen statistics (total audience viewership and demographic ratings). On several occasions, The CW has even been outrated by Spanish language network Univision. This led to speculation in the industry (including a May 16, 2008 Wall Street Journal article) that CBS, Time Warner or both companies could abandon the venture if ratings did not improve. However, The CW's fortunes were buoyed in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 television seasons thanks to increased ratings in its 18–34 female demographic and the buzz that some of its newer series (such as Gossip Girl, 90210 and The Vampire Diaries) had generated with audiences. Executives of both companies also emphasized their commitment to the network.
On May 5, 2009, The CW announced that it would give the five hours of network time on Sundays back to its affiliated stations that fall, effectively becoming a weeknight-only network in primetime, in addition to The CW Daytime and The CW4Kids blocks (the latter block, airing on Saturday mornings, would remain the only programming supplied by the network on weekends). This in turn discontinued the Sunday late afternoon repeat block that The CW inherited from The WB (formerly branded by that network as "EasyView") through its use of the predecessor network's scheduling model. Subsequently in mid-May, 65% of The CW's affiliates, including those carrying The CW Plus, signed agreements to continue to air the replacement MGM Showcase movie package on Sundays, which was offered as a traditional movie syndication package meant for The CW's former Sunday primetime slot.
New leadership (2011–present)
In 2011, Mark Pedowitz succeeded original president of entertainment Dawn Ostroff; Pedowitz assumed broader responsibilities in The CW's business operations than she had, as the network's first president. As president of entertainment, Ostroff oversaw entertainment operations while John Maatta, the network's chief operating officer, handled business affairs, and both reported to a board composed of CBS and Warner Bros. executives; Maatta began reporting to Pedowitz as a result of the latter's appointment as network president. Pedowitz revealed that the core target demographic of the network would not change, though The CW would attempt to lure new viewers. Pedowitz began looking to bring comedies back to The CW after former president, Dawn Ostroff, publicly declared the difficulty of doing comedies for its target demographic as the reason for their removal from the network following the 2008–09 season (with Everybody Hates Chris – a holdover from UPN, and The Game – a spin-off of another UPN holdover Girlfriends – becoming the last comedies to be cancelled). The network also ordered more episodes of its original series and ran them consecutively through the first week of December, starting on September 12, without repeats.
In late 2011, the network entered into digital distribution deals with streaming services Netflix and Hulu. The Netflix deal is a four-year agreement that allows its customers to instantly watch more than 700 hours of previous seasons of The CW's current scripted series, while Hulu inked a five-year deal, giving the streaming site access to next-day content from four of the five major networks (with the exception of CW sister network CBS). In 2012, Pedowitz no longer referred to the target demographic of The CW as women 18-34, but as an "18-34 adult network". This became evident with the introduction of action-superhero shows such as Arrow, which premiered to a decent performance for the network in overall viewership, watched by four million viewers with a large showing of 18-34 male viewership.
On October 24, 2012, The CW entered into its first video-on-demand distribution deal with a pay television provider through an agreement with Comcast that allows customers to watch the four most-recent episodes of the network’s primetime shows on the cable provider's Xfinity On Demand service, along with next-day episode content. The CW On Demand, which is accessible to subscribers at no additional charge, debuted on Comcast Xfinity systems nationwide on October 25. The CW beat NBC for the first time in the key demographic of Adults 18-49 on November 21, 2013.
On April 28, 2014, CBS and The CW announced that they would begin coordinating advertising sales together. The two networks will continue to set pricing for commercials independently of one another, but the sales teams will coordinate and share resources in research and other areas to develop strategies that bring value to advertising. Rob Tuck, executive vice president of sales for The CW, will continue to report to Mark Pedowitz, with added direction from Jo Ann Ross, CBS' president of sales.
As of July 2013[update], The CW altogether runs 20 hours of programming over six days. The network currently maintains a 10-hour primetime schedule, airing on Monday through Fridays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Outside of prime time, the network airs a one-hour afternoon block each Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. (though at least four affiliates – WPIX/New York City, WGN-TV/Chicago, KDAF/Dallas-Fort Worth and WCCB/Charlotte – carry the block earlier in the afternoon) and a five-hour Saturday morning animation block from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (which is subject to scheduling variances similar to the weekday afternoon block in some markets, such as in Atlanta and San Diego); the afternoon and Saturday morning blocks, which are designed to be tape delayed as the blocks are recommended to air in the same timeslot in all time zones, are broadcast one hour earlier on affiliates of The CW Plus in the Central, Mountain and Alaska Time Zones. From April 2009 to March 2011, KTKB-LP in Hagåtña, Guam aired the CW schedule on a Tuesday through Monday pattern because of Guam being one day ahead of the United States mainland.
Unlike the "Big Four" broadcast networks, The CW does not offer national news or sports programming to its affiliates; however, some affiliates broadcast their own local news and/or sports programs (either produced by the station itself or through outsourcing agreements). Many CW affiliates – mostly those aligned with The CW Plus – air the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz, while some Tribune Broadcasting-owned CW affiliates carry a similarly-formatted syndicated morning news program, Eye Opener; many affiliates also carry telecasts of basketball, football and in some cases, other collegiate sporting events (such as baseball or softball) that are produced by either ESPN Plus or the ACC Network. As of the 2013–14 television season, America's Next Top Model (which originally aired on UPN) and Supernatural (which originally aired on The WB) are the only CW series carried over from the network's respective predecessors that continue to be broadcast on the network.
The CW airs short segments during commercial breaks on certain episodes of its programs known as "Content Wraps" – a play on the network's name – in order to advertise one company's product during part or all of a commercial break. The entertainment magazine series CW Now was inspired in part by the success of the Content Wraps as it was intended to be a series with product placement; the series was cancelled in 2008, after 23 episodes. For the network's Tuesday schedule during the 2006–07 season, The CW reached an agreement with American Eagle Outfitters to have its aerie clothing line tie in with that night's CW programming as part of the Content Wrap concept, which included subjects in the commercials commenting on plot points in each of the shows. The agreement was cut down to regular advertising in February 2007, after a fan backlash by viewers of both shows and general criticism of the campaign.
Soon after the launch of The CW, the combined network utilized The WB's scheduling practices and carried over the Kids' WB programming block, still run by Warner Bros. Television and maintaining its name, to the new network. On October 2, 2007, the network announced that due to a joint decision between parent companies Time Warner and CBS Corporation, that it would discontinue the Kids' WB block due to competition from cable channels aimed at the demographic (such as Cartoon Network, which has aired many shows that were broadcast on the Kids' WB block and vice versa, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel), and would sell the programming time to 4Kids Entertainment. Kids' WB ended its run on May 17, 2008 (though some CW affiliates that delayed the block to Sundays, such as Atlanta's WUPA, aired the block for the last time on May 18).
The CW replaced Kids' WB with a new children's block called The CW4Kids on May 24, 2008. The block's lineup initially consisted of mostly programs carried over from Kids' WB, later adding 4Kids-produced shows such as Chaotic as well as new seasons of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The block was renamed as Toonzai on August 14, 2010 (though The CW4Kids remained as a sub-brand to fulfill branding obligations for The CW per 4Kids Entertainment's contract to lease the network's Saturday morning timeslots); Toonzai ended its run on August 18, 2012.
On July 3, 2012, Saban Brands and Kidsco Media Ventures, affiliates of Saban Capital Group, entered into an agreement to program a new five-hour Saturday morning action-adventure and comedy block for The CW. TheCW4Kids/Toonzai was replaced by Vortexx on August 25, 2012, with programs including Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and WWE Saturday Morning Slam, the latter of which marked the return of WWE programming to the network since WWE Smackdown moved to MyNetworkTV in 2008.
Differences between The CW and the "Big Four" networks
The CW airs only two hours of network programming during the primetime hours Monday through Fridays, compared to the three Monday through Saturday and four Sunday primetime hours offered by the Big Three networks (MyNetworkTV also does not carry any weekend primetime programming, having turned network time on Saturday evenings over to its affiliates in September 2009). This primetime scheduling allows for many of the network's affiliates to air local newscasts during the 10:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) time period. As with predecessors The WB and UPN, The CW does not run network programming on Saturday nights – despite the fact that the network maintains a children's program block on Saturday mornings – allowing affiliates to run syndicated programs, sports, movies or network programs that were preempted from earlier in the week due to special programming in the 8:00–10:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) time period.
In comparison to ABC and CBS, The CW also airs the fewest hours devoted to daytime programming on weekdays, running only one hour of programming (compared to 4½ hours on CBS and three hours on ABC), NBC also runs only one hour of daytime programming each weekday (not counting its morning news program Today). Because of these two reasons, the schedules of the majority of The CW's affiliates are largely composed of syndicated programming.
Like its predecessors UPN and by technicality, The WB – as none of Tribune Broadcasting's WB stations were considered to be O&Os since Time Warner held majority ownership of that network, The CW does not have owned-and-operated stations in any of the three largest markets – New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. The network's largest owned-and-operated station is CBS-owned WPSG/Philadelphia, which also became UPN's largest O&O after Chris-Craft Industries (which sold most of its UPN stations, including its affiliates in New York City and Los Angeles, to Fox Television Stations in 2001) had its ownership stake in that network acquired by Viacom in 2000 (neither UPN nor the DuMont Television Network had an O&O in Chicago at all; a similar situation arose with DuMont's O&O in Los Angeles, present-day CW affiliate KTLA – which had disaffiliated from the network in 1948 shortly after the FCC ruled two television stations owned by Paramount Pictures to be O&Os through Paramount's voting stock interest in the network but was still considered a DuMont owned-and-operated station nonetheless).
Because Tribune Broadcasting does not maintain an ownership stake in The CW, its stations in the three respective markets (WPIX, KTLA and WGN-TV) are actually affiliates of the network; CBS Corporation owns secondary stations – both independents – in two of the three markets, KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and Riverhead, New York's WLNY-TV in the New York City market (however, while KCAL was owned by CBS at the network's launch, WLNY was not acquired by CBS until 2011 – neither station carries CW programming though, due to affiliation deals in those markets involving Tribune-owned stations). Similar to The WB but unlike with UPN, whose founding owners Chris-Craft and Viacom both had their own station groups that formed UPN's core stations at its launch, only one of The CW's co-owners – CBS Corporation – maintains ownership of the network's owned-and-operated stations (Time Warner does not have a station group of its own, although its Turner Broadcasting System division does own Atlanta independent station WPCH-TV, which does not carry CW programming due to the network's affiliation with CBS-owned WUPA).
Unlike the other major networks, The CW distributes its programming in certain small to mid-size markets of the United States (generally in the bottom 110 Nielsen media markets) through a separate national feed called The CW Plus. The network-programmed feed is carried on a mixture of full-power and low-power stations in some markets, and cable-only outlets and digital subchannel affiliations on major network stations in markets that do not have enough commercial stations to support a standalone CW affiliate (several of The CW Plus's digital subchannel outlets originally operated as cable-only affiliates at the network's launch). The service offers its own master schedule of syndicated programming (including some feature films and infomercials) during non-network programming hours, although some CW Plus affiliates may also run a local primetime newscast from a major network affiliate.
CW predecessor The WB previously had two cable-only affiliate outlets: WGN America, the national superstation feed of WGN-TV, from January 1995 to October 1999 and network-operated The WB 100+ Station Group (the direct predecessor to The CW Plus), which was formed in September 1998 and has had several of its cable-only outlets join The CW Plus since the CW network's launch. Not all of the network's cable-only affiliates are CW Plus outlets, WT05 in Toledo, Ohio offers its own schedule of syndicated programs during non-network hours that are programmed by its owner Block Communications (which operates Toledo's major cable provider and WT05's primary carrier, the Buckeye CableSystem). Though The CW is the only network with a station group that includes cable-only outlets, it is actually one of only three networks that have had cable-only stations within its affiliate body (MyNetworkTV currently has WNFM-TV in Fort Myers, Florida and EXXV-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi, while ABC formerly had a cable-only affiliate in TV3 Winchester, until its owner Gray Television shut the Winchester, Virginia-based channel down in December 2013).
The CW does not produce any national news content, while the majority of affiliates do not have their own news operations. The CW currently has only eight affiliates that produce their own local news programming, most of which were carry-overs from previous affiliations: WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York City, and KTLA in Los Angeles started their news departments as independent stations and/or during early affiliations with other networks including DuMont; both XETV-TDT in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and WCCB in Charlotte, North Carolina started their newscasts during their previous affiliations with Fox; KDAF in Dallas and KIAH in Houston use non-traditional formats (in the form of a newsreel-style format known as NewsFix); and KCWI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa only broadcasts a morning news and talk program. KTLA has the largest number of weekly hours devoted to local news programming of any CW affiliate with 56 hours each week, followed by WGN-TV with 54 hours. Under Tribune Broadcasting ownership, WLVI in Boston produced an in-house 10:00 p.m. newscast, which was replaced in December 2006 with one produced by NBC affiliate WHDH, after Tribune sold WLVI to that station's longtime owner Sunbeam Television.
News programming on CW affiliates – if the station carries any – is often outsourced to another major network affiliate in the market, especially if they are part of a duopoly, such as Tribune's respective CW-Fox duopolies of KWGN-TV/KDVR in Denver and KPLR-TV/KTVI in St. Louis (the Fox stations in both duopolies – KDVR and KTVI – were formerly owned by Local TV, with Tribune-owned KWGN and KPLR respectively consolidating with those stations through local marketing agreements formed as part of a wider partnership involving Local TV, which Tribune bought outright in 2013), and Evansville, Indiana's WTVW (which joined The CW in January 2013) and ABC affiliate WEHT (a duopoly formed through Nexstar Broadcasting Group's 2011 purchase of WEHT and trade of WTVW to partner group Mission Broadcasting.
The scheduling of news programming on The CW's affiliates often mirror that of Fox stations, with morning newscasts (designed to compete with the national morning shows on ABC, CBS and NBC; in duopolies, these are typically an extension of the sister station's morning newscast) and a primetime newscast within the 10:00–11:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific (9:00–10:00 p.m. Central/Mountain) timeslot. Rarely (but more common on major-market affiliates with in-house news departments), they may also include midday and/or early evening newscasts.
Following the network launch announcement, The CW immediately announced ten-year affiliation agreements with Tribune Broadcasting and CBS Television Stations. Tribune originally committed 16 stations that were previously affiliated with The WB (including its flagship broadcast stations WGN-TV/Chicago, KTLA/Los Angeles and WPIX/New York City; another committed station, KSWB/San Diego, joined Fox in August 2008, and two others, WLVI-TV/Boston and WCWN/Albany, New York were sold by Tribune to different owners shortly after the network launched), while CBS committed 11 of its UPN stations (including WKBD/Detroit, WPSG/Philadelphia, KBHK-TV (now KBCW)/San Francisco and WUPA/Atlanta). These stations combined to reach 48% of all television households in the United States. Both companies also own several UPN and WB-affiliated stations that did not join The CW in overlapping markets (such as Seattle, Philadelphia and Dallas). As part of its affiliation agreement with the network, the Tribune Company agreed to divest its ownership interest in The WB (a move it made partly to avoid shouldering shutdown costs for The WB) and did not acquire an stake in The CW.
The network stated that it would eventually reach 95% of the United States. In markets where affiliates of both UPN and The WB operate, only one station became affiliated with The CW. Executives were on record as preferring the "strongest" stations among The WB and UPN's existing affiliates. For example, the new network's first affiliate outside the core group of Tribune and CBS-owned stations, WJZY/Charlotte (which was later acquired by Fox Television Stations and switched to Fox in July 2013), was tied with Atlanta's WUPA as UPN's fifth-strongest station. In most cases, it was obvious where the new network would affiliate; there were only a few markets (for example, Philadelphia, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Charlotte and Atlanta) where the WB and UPN affiliates were both relatively strong. For example, one of the first affiliates to be announced was WKCF/Orlando, Florida, which had not only been the top-rated WB affiliate for virtually all of that network's run, but had also been the fourth-rated station in Central Florida.
Nearly all of The CW's affiliates were formerly affiliated with UPN or The WB, with very few having been independent stations or affiliates of other networks prior to joining the network; a notable exception was Las Vegas's KVCW, which had been a fairly successful independent before joining The CW. Although it was generally understood that The CW was a merger of UPN and The WB, the new network's creation was not structured as a merger in the legal sense. Rather, it was one new network launching at the same time two others shut down. As such, The CW was not obligated by existing affiliations with The WB and UPN; it had to negotiate from scratch with individual stations. As a result, in several markets, the CW affiliate is a different station than either the former WB and UPN stations (for example, in Las Vegas, independent station KVCW joined The CW instead of former WB affiliate KVMY or now-defunct former UPN affiliate KTUD-CA). The network has also affiliated with some digital subchannels, usually those launched by a local Big Four affiliate as a new service, in several other markets.
Due to the availability of "instant duopoly" digital subchannels that will likely be easily available on cable and satellite, 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 both launched in January 1995. UPN for several years had affiliation gaps in the top 30 markets, and by 2005 managed to cover only 86% of the country. This resulted in secondary affiliations with other networks and the resulting 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).
The announcement of The CW caused the largest single shakeup in U.S. broadcast television since the Fox/New World Communications alliance of 1994 and the subsequent launches of UPN and The WB the following year. While The CW's debut affected more markets, it likely did not cause the same degree of viewer confusion, as no affiliates of the four major networks dropped those affiliations to join The CW (some "Big Four" affiliations did change at this time, but for unrelated reasons). The WB and UPN were the first major television networks to shut down since the collapse of the DuMont Television Network in 1955, although other small broadcast television networks have also ceased operations over the years.
It became clear that Fox Television Stations, which purchased several UPN affiliates from former UPN co-owner Chris-Craft Industries in 2002, would be affected. Its UPN affiliates in five major markets (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Houston) did not receive affiliations with The CW, due to the agreement with Tribune, and Fox made it clear it would not even seek carriage of the network for its UPN affiliates in four other markets. All UPN logos and network references were quickly removed from Fox's UPN stations. Shortly thereafter, Fox announced that it would launch MyNetworkTV, a programming service meant to fill the two nightly prime time hours that UPN would vacate on the network's Fox-owned affiliates after The CW launched. Fox also offered the service to stations owned by other broadcasting groups.
In markets where The WB and UPN were carried on separate stations, one of the two local outlets was left out in the merger; most of the stations that did not join The CW had signed with MyNetworkTV instead, while others elected to become independent stations. Some stations (mainly digital subchannels, some cable channels formerly with The WB 100+ Station Group, and struggling low-power stations) which did not affiliate with either network opted instead to shut down permanently.
Problems with Time Warner Cable
Some Time Warner Cable subscribers around the country were unable to see the network when it debuted on September 18, 2006 due to stations in several markets not being able to strike a deal with the provider. In markets like Charleston, South Carolina; El Paso, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Palm Springs, California; Beaumont; Waco and Corpus Christi, Texas, where The CW is broadcast on a digital subchannel of one of the market's major network affiliates, there were unsuccessful attempts in getting Time Warner Cable to carry those CW affiliates (CW co-parent Time Warner had owned Time Warner Cable until it spun off the provider into a separate company in 2009).
Some affiliates eventually signed deals with Time Warner Cable, but not all of the CW affiliates received carriage on TWC's basic cable tiers (for example, Syracuse, New York's WSTQ-LP can only be viewed on digital cable channel 266 in the Ithaca market). Currently, the largest market without a known affiliate is the Johnstown-Altoona market, the closest CW station to that market is CBS-owned WPCW-TV/Pittsburgh, which is carried on TWC's Johnstown and Altoona's cable systems; WPCW was originally targeted to serve that area before it switched its focus to the Pittsburgh market in the late 1990s.
On February 2, 2007, Beaumont, Texas's KFDM made its CW-affiliated subchannel available to Time Warner Cable customers in the market on channel 10. On April 20, 2007, El Paso, Texas's KVIA-TV began broadcasting its CW-affiliated subchannel on Time Warner Cable channel 13. On April 21, 2007, KCWQ-LP made its broadcast debut on channel 5 on Time Warner Cable in the Palm Springs area.
Pappas Telecasting bankruptcy
One of the network's major affiliate groups, Pappas Telecasting Companies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for thirteen of its stations on May 10, 2008. Within the petition, Pappas specifically cited the network's low ratings and lackluster performance as one of many complications that had forced it to make the filing. Several of the stations have since been sold in either business transactions with Pappas's bankruptcy officials or via station auction processes as Pappas winds down operations.
Although the company had originally stated that no stations would be affected at all by the closing, two Pappas stations formerly affiliated with The CW have ceased operations. On May 29, 2008, Yakima, Washington's KCWK (which served the south central portion of that state) went off the air and the station's offices were closed, leaving that area without locally-based CW programming and forcing cable and satellite providers to carry Los Angeles' KTLA in order to provide the network's programming to their subscribers. The situation was resolved when Fisher Communications announced in April 2009, that its CBS affiliates in the area (KIMA-TV and KEPR-TV) would carry the network through digital subchannel affiliations.
Subsequently, Columbus, Georgia's WLGA lost its CW affiliation in April 2009 to a subchannel of WLTZ due to the network's concerns about Pappas's financial state; WLGA ultimately ceased operations in June 2010 as it was unable to compete in the market as an independent station; it has since returned to the air as an affiliate of WeatherNation TV.
Marianas Media bankruptcy
On April 20, 2009, Hagåtña, Guam station KTKB-LD signed on air as a CW affiliate and became the U.S. territory's fifth commercial television outlet. The competition from the other outlets combined with financial problems at Marianas Media, which was running the station under a local marketing agreement with the troubled KM Communications Inc., forced the station off air on March 31, 2011.
Tribune's relations with The CW and their de-emphasis of the network's brand
While the Tribune Company has solid affiliation deals with The CW, it also has affiliation deals with Fox. But with new management and ownership taking over Tribune in 2008, it was apparent that the company would move one of its CW-affiliated stations to Fox (at least those in markets without a Fox owned-and-operated station or a former O&O that was acquired by Local TV, which Tribune later acquired in 2013), adding to more questions surrounding The CW's future. In a March 2008 seminar by Tribune's then-chairman and CEO Sam Zell, it was revealed that the company's San Diego outlet KSWB-TV would switch its affiliation from The CW to Fox that August, with KSWB assuming the Fox affiliation from XETV-TV, which had been a Fox charter affiliate since that network's 1986 inception. XETV (which is licensed to Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico under the ownership of Televisa but whose U.S. operations are programmed by Bay City Television) was not informed of Zell's deal until it was made public.
After the news broke, XETV planned on suing to prevent the switch on the grounds that it would violate an affiliation contract that XETV had with Fox that was not set to expire until 2010. However on July 2, 2008, XETV announced that it would join The CW on August 1 (the same day that KSWB became a Fox affiliate) and rebrand as "San Diego 6". Though Tribune's 13 other CW-affiliated stations have remained with the network, all of them began to de-emphasize the network from their branding (e.g., "CW 11") in favor of one with a stronger local identity. On-air branding that excised the CW name began on the stations in July 2008, either on-air (in the case of KWGN-TV) or through their websites (as part of a redesign for all of the Tribune stations' websites). Some of these stations eventually began reincorporating the CW branding starting in 2011, such as KDAF/Dallas, KRCW-TV/Portland, Oregon and KIAH/Houston.
Tribune Company president Peter Liguori said in a May 2014 discussion at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit that he was "not pleased with where the CW is [in regards to its ratings performance]," stating that the network "should not program to [young] people who don't watch [conventional] television." Liguori also stated that he would consider collaborating with the network in regards to improving its programming slate, possibly by incorporating programs from the company's Tribune Studios unit (a production division which launched shortly after Liguori was appointed president of Tribune in 2013) onto the network, as well as having Tribune play a larger role in The CW's management.
Roberts Broadcasting bankruptcy
Roberts Broadcasting filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on October 7, 2011; the company cited the loss of the UPN affiliations for WRBU/St. Louis, WZRB/Columbia, South Carolina and WRBJ/Jackson, Mississippi when that network shut down in favor of The CW in 2006, as much of UPN's programming consisted of minority-targeted programs that Roberts felt were compatible with their stations' target audiences (though the stations have since recovered from this setback; additionally, WAZE had instead affiliated with The WB prior to 2006, as it was owned by South Central Communications until February 2007). The company has also been hit with lawsuits from Warner Bros. Television, Twentieth Television and CBS Television Distribution over failure to pay fees for syndicated programming; Roberts eventually settled with Twentieth but lost the Warner Bros. and CBS cases.
On March 24, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) canceled WAZE's license for failure to construct its digital facilities. However, the station continued to broadcast via its three-station analog translator network.
On February 20, 2012, Roberts Broadcasting announced it was exploring the possibility of selling one or all four of its television stations in order to raise enough cash to pay off its creditors. On October 22, 2012, Roberts announced that it had sold WRBJ to the Trinity Broadcasting Network; the deal was approved by a bankruptcy court on January 17, 2013, and TBN officially took over operational control of WRBJ five months later, on May 24, 2013. The CW would return to the Jackson area on the second digital subchannel of CBS affiliate WJTV in September 2013. On January 3, 2013, the repeater network of WAZE ceased operations, with independent station WTVW hurriedly joining the CW at the end of the month to maintain the network in the Evansville area.
On December 2, 2013, Roberts filed to sell WZRB to Radiant Light Ministries, a subsidiary of Tri-State Christian Television, for $2 million. On December 4, Roberts also filed to sell WRBU to TCT for $5.5 million. However, on December 11, the United States bankruptcy court gave initial approval for a plan by Roberts' creditors to instead transfer WRBU, WZRB and the WAZE repeaters to a trust with Ion Media Networks (a creditor in Roberts' chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings) as its beneficiary, with Roberts' attorney subsequently stating that Ion would purchase the stations for $7.75 million. Roberts had earlier proposed an alternate plan that would have had only the WAZE repeaters be transferred to the trust, which would have allowed the sale of WRBU and WZRB to TCT. The CW affiliation in Columbia moved to MyNetworkTV affiliate WKTC in March 2014, after temporarily remaining on WZRB after its conversion into an Ion Television O&O the previous month; WKTC now operates as a dual CW/MyNetworkTV affiliate.
When The CW launched in 2006, the network began branding most of its affiliates as "CW" or "The CW", with stations opting to use their channel number (for example, WNAB/Nashville is branded as "CW58" and KSTW/Seattle brands as "CW11") or incorporating the name of their city or region. Examples of the latter include Philadelphia's WPSG (known as "The CW Philly", although secondarily known as "CW Philly 57"), WLVI (known at launch as "Boston's CW", though it rebranded to "CW56" after being sold to Sunbeam Television), WUPA (known as "CW Atlanta" at launch, but is now known as "CW69"), Waco, Texas's KWTX-DT2 (known as "CW Texas") and KVCW (branded as "CW Las Vegas"). Some stations also use the call sign/either within the station logo, on-air identification or both; examples include WNLO/Buffalo, New York, WWHO/Columbus, Ohio and WBNX/Cleveland.
In Omaha, Nebraska, KXVO uses the dual brandings of "CW15" and "Omaha's CW". In Honolulu, Hawaii, KHON-DT2 is branded as "Hawaii's CW 93" (the "93" refers to the subchannel's cable channel position). The branding once used by WKRC-DT2/Cincinnati, Ohio was "CinCW", a portmanteau with the common nickname for the city, "Cincy" (it now brands as "The CW Cincinnati"). With the exceptions of XETV/San Diego and WXCW/Fort Meyers, all CW affiliates not owned by Tribune usually brand themselves using a version of the network logo. From December 2009 to September 2012, Mobile, Alabama CW affiliate WBPG, then known as "The Gulf Coast's CW" changed its call letters to WFNA and used a similar approach around their new call letters, before becoming known as "CW 55" and adopting a style reflective of The CW's branding techniques once again.
The CW HD
The CW's master feed is transmitted in 1080i high definition, with all transmission of the network's programming moving to the format in June 2012. As of March 2012 (when America's Next Top Model became the final program to convert to the format), all primetime programming, as well as the network's Saturday morning children's block Vortexx, is broadcast in HD, with the daytime talk show The Bill Cunningham Show carried in enhanced definition widescreen due to producer preference. Vortexx programming that is not broadcast in high definition features stylized pillarboxing and windowboxing.
The network is available in HD on most of its full-power affiliates, while availability on those affiliates with subchannel or cable-exclusive affiliations varies by market; in some of these cases, a standard definition signal is only available over-the-air. In those cases, the station offers an exclusive high definition feed to cable and satellite providers, while a 16:9 widescreen feed that broadcasts in 480i SD is presented on some over-the-air affiliates to meet minimum requirements for presentation. Since June 2012, The CW Plus feed is also transmitted in HD, and the network has asked those affiliates to carry it in high definition wherever possible.
Marketing and multimedia
The CW Television Network is involved in both linear broadcast and digital media, in various forms:
- On January 14, 2007, The CW began streaming full-length episodes of several programs online.
- On December 15, 2006, CBS Corporation revived its record label, CBS Records, whose artists' music are available to programs on The CW.
- The network has a iTunes App Store application, not counting Hulu's streaming of CW programming over its Hulu Plus application; the CWTV app is a more traditional television network application featuring the network's programming, which can be streamed over 3G and WiFi networks. The network's programming is also available over CBS Interactive's TV.com app, which encompasses all of CBS's various properties. Previously, a separate first-person shooter app called Nikita Spy Training Module was used to promote the 2010-2013 drama series Nikita. The network also previously marketed CW City Wize, a Target-sponsored application highlighting businesses and video highlights of the network's Monday and Tuesday night programming in the 2009–10 season; it has since been discontinued.
- On December 1, 2011, The CW offered "CWingo", an interactive game resembling Bingo, accessed by using Facebook to sign into the CW community. Starting with an episode of The Vampire Diaries, viewers could click on tiles showing a scene from an episode as that scene appeared, and five tiles in a row meant CWingo. Winners could become eligible for prizes. Advertisers sponsored the games.
- CW Seed (originally called CWD or the CW Digital Studio), is a destination for original content created exclusively for the digital platform focused in the areas of animation, game shows, comedy and digital personalities. It exists as a sub-site on CWTV.com, but the network is adding more interactivity to the service, opening up for feedback from viewers and adding more social engagement. Web content produced by CW Seed includes Stupid Hype, Prom Queen and Husbands (the latter of which was picked up by the CW television network for its summer 2013 schedule).
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