My Network TV Looking To KO The Can’t Win Network

Update:  The Game Shows are new episodes of first run syndication.  The shows L&O:CI and THE UNIT are syndicated repeats, however THE UNIT is in talks of first run syndication if a deal can be reached, the 2nd hour planned would be new episodes.  So it’s if the show can be produced at a much lower cost.

I had a busy day (and thus I was unable to post about THE UNIT possibly being saved) and around lunch I heard the news.  My Network TV was going to continue its crusade to beat The Can’t Win (The CW) Network with the scraps left by others.  As many know last season My Network TV picked up SMACKDOWN! after Dawn Ostroff said “we can’t keep our most watched show, girls hate it!”  However next season will have THE UNIT and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT added to the broadcast schedule for My Network TV affiliates.  The also will be adding two game shows:  DEAL & NO DEAL and ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER.

So MNTV has SMACKDOWN! which brings them 3M viewers on average and has peaked to nearly 4M viewers.  In addition they’re adding THE UNIT which in its first season averaged over 15M viewers, and while there was a serious drop in season 2 and 3, they still average 11M viewers in those 2 seasons.  Last season was a series worst averaging 9.1M viewers.  The 4th season of THE UNIT was also its first on a new night and an in the 9/10 time slot.

A source at MNTV who asked to remain anonymous said “We think we can grow substantially over 2009/2010 so when the CW folds we’ll be able to cherry pick their best shows, well that is if they have anything worth picking up.”

When Dawn Ostroff was at UPN and The CW she made a stance of “we won’t pick up the scraps from other networks anymore,” this was because UPN had picked up CLUELESS, THE HUGHLEYS, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and ROSWELL under the previous management.  When you consider that CLUELESS was the only show that was a “hit,” when it was brought over (ABC infamously canceled the series because it was a bomb, and moved it to Fridays to die, where it became a hit watched by over 13M viewers) you have to question Dawn’s stance.  Sure it doesn’t make since to save shows like THE HUGHLEYS (which had gone from 13M viewers in the pilot to 5.5M viewers on cancelation) or ROSWELL but saving a show like CLUELESS and BUFFY makes sense.

My Network TV is doing what UPN was created for:  To pick up pilots or shows that were turned down by networks.  By grabbing a show that routinely gets 9M viewers on Sunday Nights at 9/10 they have a chance of getting 3M viewers for the Fall (and it would be noticably higher if they had The CW’s home penetration numbers) something only SUPERNATURAL and SMALLVILLE can claim for the CW (among scripted shows) on a regular basis.

So My Network TV is looking to improve dramatically again over last season.  Meanwhile the CW is hoping upon all hope that VAMPIRE DIARIES & THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE are hits and SMALLVILLE can bring life to Fridays for them.  If I was to pick which strategy was more sound, I’d go with My Network TV.

Even if MNTV can’t get a deal on 1st run syndication for THE UNIT, it’s an agressive change up compared to the CW, they’re putting shows up that have proven people watch them.

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27 responses to “My Network TV Looking To KO The Can’t Win Network

  1. As a fan of wrestling, I’ve heard it suggested by various sports journalists that mynetwork will be done within the next couple of years, the ratings just aren’t there and it’s in worse shape than CW.

    Thoughts on this?

  2. They picked up new episodes of The Unit? When I saw the schedule I thought it was just repeat syndication, like it had been reported as sold into last week. Interesting.

  3. It will be around longer than The CW. They had a bad business plan, and they did a total shakeup. What they’re providing next season of pre-established game shows (from NBC and FOX), a show that wouldn’t have been canceled had it been on another network, a show from a well known brand, and SMACKDOWN! You have to look at that and go “That ain’t bad.”

    It’s much smarter than The CW. The CW is taking their top show and throwing it to the wolves on Friday. My Network TV is picking up a show watched by over 9 million people!

  4. The overall strategy of MNTV makes much more sense. The CW could have thrived eventually under Ostroff’s strategy- but its just the wrong time to introduce it. Way too early and its the kiss of death. They’ll doggie paddle through the 09/10 season and maybe even have a few bright spots, but you can only tread water so long before you drown.

  5. Julia, my understanding was and I should maybe try and clear it up, is they’re airing syndicated versions of both shows and new episodes, so an hour of syndicated and first run syndication.

    I could be entirely wrong, it may be entirely syndicated. That is still a smarter business plan than what The CW is doing. I’ll make a call, I was out and about all day doing things. So it’s quite possible I misunderstood. The MNTV person quoted didn’t make it sound like they were repeats, but didn’t make them sound like they were new either.

  6. Nikky, I think you’re wrong, unless you are talking about like 15 years ago. When you have such a narrow focus, you need to have a market where there are almost no choices for that demo. Otherwise the audience is going to be so fragmented that there’s no way to thrive.

    Would it be doing better in a better economy? Well, CBS probably would be willing to be a bit more patient, but I don’t think the economy really makes a difference when it comes to ratings.

  7. Ok I found out they’re in talks for 1st run syndication with THE UNIT producers. It’s not a done deal, and if they can’t reach a deal it will be 2 hours of repeats… I’m not sure THE UNIT can get cheap enough. That has to be a tough call.

    Still I find it much more aggressive and positive a strategy than the CW: If we throw mud on a wall, maybe some will stick!

  8. Just the fact that they are talking about it is more aggressive. But, while MNT will definitely be more successful than CW on the balance sheet, and has a good shot of taking it down in the ratings at least a few nights a week, I don’t think this strategy will ever make MNT a “real” network.

  9. Julia, I’m in agreement with you. I think I may have been unclear. The CW would definetely be better of right now being more broad and giving room and time to grow the types of programming that they desire to focus on. If they had nurtured their goals a lot more slowly they may have had a chance at pulling it off.

    Instead they are transitioning focus without any hits in the target demo (Gossip Girl needs viewers for it to count – media does no good). their current best performers are outside the demo.

    Bottom line, the top 4 networks are going to be tough nuts to crack. 5th place could be pretty sweet especially if it can pull in a demo currently not being aggresively courted by any of the top 4. It’s a risky yet tempting strategy and I understand why the CW would want to go that route. I also think the way it has been handled and how quickly they are trying to transition it is poor management.

    The fact is, anyone can set a goal and make a wish but without the proper steps and hard work you can’t succeed. The idea in itself is not as horrible as people make it sound. It’s the lack of forsight in its execution that is disasterous.

  10. Siri Atiragram Lleof

    I’m intrigued the direction MyNetworkTV is taking.

    When they pass up The CW in ratings I’m going to laugh my ass off.

  11. I think Dawn’s narrow focus strategy could work great for a cable network, but seems to have very little chance of thriving on a broadcast network. Do we know if those are new episodes of 5th grader?

  12. Never mind, Wikipedia says 5th grader and D or ND are new from the syndicated packages.

  13. It’s too bad My Network TV couldn’t pick up Body Politic. I don’t really believe that the CW is considering anything else for midseason, but they’re supposedly watching this poll:

    http://www.buzzsugar.com/3194030

    And Body Politic is doing pretty well for itself.

    I can still dream!!!

  14. Annie makes a good point: the CW is looking at a BuzzSugar poll to determine whether to pick up BP or GG2.0…a ‘net POLL. Seriously? That’s how they make programming decisions?

    Not that I’d be against it if they did pick up BP, seeing as it was the only pilot they had worth a damn.

    Nick, are you hearing anything about this?

    The MNTV choice seems smart, much more savvy than Dawn’s strategy of trying to target a niche audience (18-34 female) on a BROADcast network. The inconsistency is right there for all to see. What a joke.

  15. John S, the strategy wouldn’t even work for a cable network. They’re trying to program for a targeted demo with product that is extremely similar. They have one “unique,” show and they turned down BODY POLITIC the best pilot they had because they thought their targeted demo would be turned off by the politics!

  16. The CW isn’t going to make a decision based on a buzzsugar poll!

    If they pick up another mid-season show it will be LILY and not BODY POLITIC if Dawn is left to her way.

  17. Could/Would MNTV actually pick up a show that hasn’t aired on another network, and thus, hasn’t had the chance to gain a fanbase? I’m just curious.

  18. I’ve yet to see a show about the 80’s down right. Won’t hold my breath on this one if the GG spin off gets picked up.

    On the other hand MNTV is a winner to me. Their original plan with the redone Telenovelas(sp?) stunk to me. Anything that brings me new episodes of 5th Grader and The Unit is must watch to me.

  19. You know if MNTV continues with this trend thet may pick up CHUCK if it does not do well on NBC. This might be the other network that Ausiello and yourself Nick, alluded to

  20. Tiff, no. Ant, nope. CHUCK even after 3 seasons wouldn’t have enough episodes.

  21. What about if the chance came for first run syndication like Reaper? WB can get Chuck on another network tomorrow apparently as they love the show and the studios would love some acclaim.

    Similar to Scrubs in a way.

  22. Nick, the Deal or No Deal episodes will be a mix of repeats from season 1 syndication and new episodes from s2, according to b&c.

  23. “The CW isn’t going to make a decision based on a buzzsugar poll!”

    Too bad too. Sometimes I feel like networks would be better off if they just aired all of their pilots and then let people vote. If it were up to us, BP would have been picked up no question, and if the CW were smart (har har) they’d actually pay attention to all the “buzz” BP is getting now. It’s obvious which show people actually want to see.

  24. Some Guy named John

    I personally bet many CW affiliates are going to jump ship, as local networks they can better cater to the communities and offer syndicated shows, that might do better than cheaply made teen queen dramas. I actually like the WB during the late 1990 and early 2000’s when it had some good shows, but now its night after night of the same garbage that would better on Lifetime or We.

    What the network needs is to add new ground breaking shows. 4 night of girly dramas isn’t helping. Bring in some comedies that push the bar, show a cop show, have a hospital show… and then you will have similar lineup to the other 4 networks. When a Spanish television network has more people watching, you have to think that maybe you are doing something wrong when you live in a English speaking country.

  25. If MNTV can actually get new episodes of The Unit it will be interesting to read Dawn’s press release about how MNTV passed them in the ratings.
    If The CW would’ve picked up The Unit, it would’ve bought them at least 2 more more years beyond the 1 year they are expected to last.

  26. some good shows