CBS, Warner Bros. forming new TV network UPN, The WB to cease operations; new broadcaster to go live in fall
Updated: 12:21 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
NEW YORK - CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. said Tuesday they will close their respective UPN and WB networks, and jointly launch a new channel in fall 2006.
The new CW network will be a 50-50 joint venture of the two companies.
The companies expect the station to reach 95 percent of the country. Story continues below ↓
Tribune Co. said its 16 UPN broadcast stations signed 10-year affiliate agreements with the new network. Similarly, CBS said its 12 UPN stations signed 10-year affiliate deals.
The two station groups reach 48 percent of the country. The companies expect the remainder of the affiliates to come from a combination of WB and UPN stations.
The CW will use The WB’s current scheduling model, which consists of Monday through Friday nights from 8-10 p.m. ET; Sundays from 7-10 p.m. ET; Sunday from 5-7 p.m. ET outside of primetime. It will also include a Monday through Friday afternoon block from 3-5 p.m. ET and a 5-hour Saturday morning animation block.
The surprise news of the merger comes as the WB Network has faced pressure to perform and prove itself as a strategic asset at a time when its parent company Time Warner is under intense scrutiny on Wall Street and from maverick investor Carl Icahn.
Time Warner has struggled with the WB’s financials since the network was launched in January 1995 because of its lack of TV station holdings, which are the primary revenue drivers for broadcast networks.
Sources told the Hollywood Reporter that UPN president Dawn Ostroff will oversee the combined venture, and that WB Network chairman Garth Ancier and WB entertainment president David Janollari would depart their posts.
Time Warner president and chief operating officer Jeff Bewkes said at a recent investor conference that the WB has done only “medium,” had a slight loss in 2005 and needs more hits and better affiliate relationships. He also signaled that management would focus on addressing these issues in 2006.