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The WB, UPN Call It Quits — New Network Coming

Time Warner and CBS are teaming up for a new, fifth network, swallowing The WB and UPN. If the press release is telling, expect a slate of new multimedia offerings.
January 24, 2006

The WB and UPN networks have long existed just outside the four major broadcast networks. With shows like Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven, and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the two have tried to target very specific markets. However, the experiment is over.

CBS and Warner Bros. announced that they will launch a joint network, The CW, this fall, incorporating programming from both The WB and UPN. Now, the move in-and-of-itself isn’t all that startling, for two reasons: neither network ever seriously challenged others in the ratings wars and it’s still broadcast television.

However, what struck me as important came, as usual, buried in the press release:

With this move, we will be creating a viable entity, one well-equipped to compete, thrive and serve all our many publics in this multi-channel media universe. – Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation

Notice that he doesn’t say “in this multi-channel television universe.” The use of the word “media” instead, along with the description of the companies involved in this deal – plus the relatively new push to develop cross-platform properties (i.e., DVD releases, mobile released on cell phones and the PSP, online components), and not just television shows, makes this deal quite interesting.

Many of the major cable companies, broadcast networks, and affiliates are looking for ways to reach a television audience that is spending more time with other forms of media. It makes sense, as a broadcast network, to begin to look at ways to reach your audience across multiple formats.

The companies, in snippet form:

CBS Corporation:

It has operations in virtually every field of media and entertainment, including broadcast television (CBS and UPN), cable television (Showtime), local television (CBS Television Stations), television production and syndication (CBS Paramount Television and King World), radio (CBS Radio), advertising on out-of-home media (CBS Outdoor), publishing (Simon & Schuster), theme parks (Paramount Parks), digital media (CBS Digital Media Group and CSTV Networks), and consumer products (CBS Consumer Products)

Warner Bros. Entertainment:

Warner Bros. Entertainment, a Time Warner Company, stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry, from feature films to television, home video/DVD, animation, comic books, interactive entertainment and games, product and brand licensing, international cinemas and broadcasting.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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