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.