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Behold! The CW Rises!

The two netlets, The WB and UPN, have announced that they are merging and that from this unholy union will rise The CW. This is a good idea, as both were bleeding money badly, but it doesn’t answer what will happen to the shows that are currently on both networks.

Assuming that The CW goes 8pm to 10pm 6 days a week, that means that both networks will have to lose a number of shows to make it work. If they had expanded to 8pm to 11 (or even 7 to 10), they may have been able to bring back all the shows that were performing to acceptable levels, though the thought is with the new arrangement, those levels will have to increase.

There are also some new problems. The new set-up will only reach about 50% of the US, though there hasn’t been enough time to judge exactly how many stations will jump on-board with the new net. (UPDATE: Variety reports that Tribune and CBS-owned stations -- not CBS stations -- will carry the network, reaching 95% of the country.)

In the San Francisco Bay Area (where most of the Fanboy Planet staff resides), as an example, neither the WB nor the UPN affiliate have announced that they are picking up the CW schedule, though it is assumed that one of the two affiliates of the two networks will pick up the programming, with the Viacom-owned KBHK-44 being the likely station to do so, though nothing is decided. (Since writing this article, Garcia confirms that UPN-44 has been rechristened CW-44 for the Fall of 2006 -- editor.)

Here are a few unanswered questions that might interest you:

What does this mean for the Best Show on TV, Veronica Mars? Performance ratings-wise will probably be on the top of everyone’s mind, but it’s also a critical darling. I’d say the chances of it coming back are 50-50, no worse than if UPN had to make the choice.

What does this mean for SmackDown!? They mentioned it in the press release that it will play a role in the new schedule, but they didn’t say if it would still be two hours or what. The WWE’s contract expires in September and they need to get a new contract hammered out soon.

What will the sched look like? We know that 7th Heaven will be gone. Likely other cuts are Gillmore Girls (it’s another expensive show to produce) and the UPN comedies, with the possible exception of Everybody Hates Chris and maybe Girlfriends. I wouldn’t expect Supernatural or Smallville to be axed, but I’d be worried if I were South Beach or Charmed, which is probably the most expensive to produce show that might be cut in the name of one of the other shows, though it does produce OK ratings. Reba, a decent performer and not a bad show, will probably stick.

Almost certain to stick around are America’s Next Top Model and Beauty & The Geek. They have both done well in the ratings and can be counted on to work cheap and get young viewers in.

If The CW doesn’t put the emphasis on younger viewers that both UPN and especially The WB did, then we might see a big change.

(Of course, Derek's biggest question: Whither Aquaman?)

Chris Garcia

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