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January 11 2005

A tale of two networks. (reg req) An interesting article from the Hollywood Reporter about the birth of the WB and UPN. "The WB trailed UPN in the ratings in the first two years. But the WB leap-frogged ahead in 1997 as its schedule caught fire with such drama hits as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

"From then on, WB has maintained a sizable advantage over the WB in one key measure of a network's health: advertising sales. Last spring, WB booked an estimated $675 million in upfront advertising sales for the current TV season, compared with about $350 million for UPN.

Daly recalls that in the months before WB took flight, there were board-room battles with former Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner about whether the media conglomerate should continue to invest in the WB.

"There was a lot of heat inside the company. Ted was very much against it," Daly says. "But eventually the board of directors supported us on it, and the WB turned out to be a very good asset for the company. I'm very proud of the fact that it's 10 years old. I think it'll be around for a long time."

I'll be interested to see the advertising sales numbers for this year. I've been keeping an eye on the average number of viewers of these two networks for the past six months and they've been in a dead heat. Around 3.6 millon viewers average. During last summer of reruns, the WB was trailing in last place with the UPN in a solid lead. When the new season started up, the WB shot up to 5th place. But as the new season continued, WB fell back as the UPN climb. Lately, the WB has been spending more time in #6 spot. Not sure how viewers average numbers compare to advertising dollars since a strong show makes much more money than a weak show. As I said, next years numbers will be interesting.

BTW, excellent article on the inner workings of network television.
I suppose this is as good a place as any to mention that the WB has finally axed The Mountain.
I was about to say we saw that coming, but I did some research and it's much worse. Check out these numbers. In its 13 episode run, 'The Mountain' averaged 1.92 million viewers. After moving to Sunday, the ratings never gotten higher than 1.64 millions. It gets worse. Tried to find the mid-season replacement, but no luck. Then I discovered why with this article. There aren't any. They're going to show 'Summerland' reruns in its place. Think it's safe to say those advertising sales numbers will come up short for next year.

[ edited by Madhatter on 2005-01-11 15:47 ]
Thanks, Madhatter, for the link to that article. Funny, I haven't even heard of many of the shows listed there. I don't have much time for TV, so I seek out good programs and quickly drop those that are a waste of time -- and some programs clearly do not register on my radar. I must say the vengeful part of me rejoices in the demise of The Mountain and the WB in general. It would be nice to think that the defecting Angel audience was key to this, despite our relatively small numbers, but at least we made a contribution. And my guess is that the WB would love to have Angel's numbers back right now, even those allegedly weak repeat numbers, for the rare repeat, which undoubtedly exceeded those for The Mountain.
palehorse, did some number crunching to prove your point. From 'Angel' season five. First shown episodes averaged 4.24 million viewers. The repeats averaged 2.5 million. None of the 'Angel' repeats numbers were below 'The Mountain' first aired episodes. Yes, the numbers back you up completely.
Well as sorry as i am for the cast and crew of The Mountain (seeing as how they had nothing to do with what happened to Angel obviously) i have to say that this news gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

The WB made an incredibly idiotic decision last year by cancelling Angel and alienating an extremely loyal, if not extremely large, audience. The one show they chose to axe last season was the one that could easily have gone on for another two years with strong and steady ratings whilst all the other shows that they renewed have been showing a steady decline and in the case of Charmed will almost certainly be ending this season anyway.

I can't help but feel that the WB execs are getting exactly what they deserve with how dismally their network has performed this year. Whilst Jordan Levin was the obvious target for our anger when it all happened the fact is that there had to be others involved in the decision as well and that the network as a whole is therefore responsible for the mess it has found itself in this time around.

Anyone fancy starting an "I Told You So!" campaign? :)
I think the boycotting of the WB and their failing numbers are the "I Told You So" campaign.
I'm loving how poorly everything on the WB is doing this season, they cancelled the one show that had a ratings increase in the 03/04 season, and now all their returning shows are doing worse, even their precious Smallville and Charmed.

Though I do watch the show, I wouldn't be surprised, or all that upset if Smallville gets cancelled this season, aside from the poor numbers, they've proved that last year was a fluke, as the quality of the show has gone back to being very average, while last year was a good, strong season (not approaching Angel standards, but still TV of a reasonable quality). What would annoy me a bit (and again, not surprise me at all) is if Smallville gets cancelled, and Charmed gets yet another season.

Just out of curiosity, have any of The WBs new shows this season not been cancelled or even aired (like Commando Nanny, which I know so many people here were looking forward to seeing!).

Really is a shame Levin isn't still at The WB.

You'd think after nearly a year I wouldnt still feel such hatred toward the network.

[ edited by Ghost Spike on 2005-01-11 19:38 ]
I find it funny how the WB forgot who helped get them to where they are today when they cancelled Angel. But that's business I guess.
The linked articles have additional info, such as this section:
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer," produced by News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox Television, has all of the important ingredients for a long syndication afterlife: a cult following, good critical buzz, a star whose career is just getting started and a concept that lends itself to ancillary products. The series initially was developed as an in-house project at the WB, and Fox took a gamble by agreeing to fund significant deficits on the visual-effects heavy show even after it was passed on by the WB's sibling studio, Warner Bros. Television.

"Buffy" is known to have raked in more than $2 million an episode through its initial off-network deals with FX and the Fox O&Os and other local broadcast stations for weekend runs. That doesn't count revenue from sales of "Buffy" DVD box sets, video games, books, T-shirts, calendars and myriad other licensed products.

That's $2million just for the initial syndication of each episode, which goes back to the producers. You would think Twentieth would want to create additional productions for such a franchise cash-cow!

However, this side article has less positive things to say about Buffy:
It's also rather amusing in hindsight to consider the social importance attached to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a WB rep-building series (later stolen by UPN) that was said to embody all sorts of female empowerment issues and even inspired scholarly manifestos waxing poetic on its "learning as redemption" dynamic. What it was, of course, was a show about a woman who killed vampires, making it something less than a pragmatic vocational tutorial.

But hey, whatever plunges your dagger, you know?


[ edited by SaveAngel on 2005-01-11 21:27 ]
I know that Joss is far too intelligent a guy to want to burn any remaining shaky bridges that still exist between him and the WB but this The Mountain news, not to mention the general state of the network overall, has got to give him a satisfied feeling inside after the way he was treated last year.

If Levin and his cohorts had been responsible for cutting my critically acclaimed television series short just as it was reaching it's prime, giving ludicrous reasons for doing so and then replacing it with utter rubbish, i'd definately be smiling inside whilst reading these reports, facts and figures. Hell i'd be laughing out loud if i'm honest.
...something less than a pragmatic vocational tutorial.

That's genuinely pretty funny. But praising the female icons of the "Gilmore Girls" and "Felicity" while at the same time dissing Buffy's social importance?
I still ask myself - why did they cancel a series that was showing a ratings increase and had a dedicated following? I never understood the cancellation. In my entire life I have never been so upset by a network's decision to cancel a show.

The WB deserve ratings in the toliet.
I really do think that Jordan Levin had something against Joss Whedon, it's the only conclusion I can come to.

Either that or he just didn't like the show, and since he was in a position that gave him the power to do so, he cancelled it.
Ghost Spike: My take is that Jordan Levin did like the show, because it gave decent ratings. But with five seasons under its belt, Levin didn't want the hassle of yet another pricey season re-negotiation with Twentieth Century Fox Television. He made the presumptive play that one vampire show is just like another, and better to have one cheaply made "in house" than produced by another studio's unit: thus was (still) born the monstrosity that never saw the light of day: "Dark Shadows."

I think as much as canceling ANGEL, promoting a failed pilot did him in.

If anything, Levin should be thankful he's no longer there. Garth Ancier now has to justify to advertisers why the network he now leads is in last place.
I just read on James Marsters website (theres a link to an old article about the renewal for season 5) that has an interview of some sorts with Levin. He said that they had to pay Fox more money for season 5 and that they weren't making anything on it. Also the way he compared it to Dawsons Creek last year made it seem like he knew season 5 would be the last.

Bad decision on his part as season 5 was one of Angels best overall and in the ratings. I dont feel bad for the WB whatsoever
I'd like to believe JL (and/or unknown powers above) didn't have anything personal against Angel, JW and the fans, but then sanity kicks in again. How could it not have been personal, on some level? The timing of the cancellation announcement on the Friday night before Valentine's Day was just too horrible. It totally ruined that weekend for me (and quite a few weeks after it) and I can't imagine the whole thing wasn't deliberately orchestrated to do so, given the fact the news could have just as easily been leaked a few days later, when the irony factor of 'hearts 'n' flowers' didn't make it feel so much more cruel. As a long-time viewer of the WB up until that time, I took it very personally the way we all had to find out -- off the internet, with no honest sympathy, apology or word of appreciation from the network for all our years of dedication to the show, which was a dependable stalwart in their ratings in spite of everything they tried to do to kill it. Sheer neglect didn't work, so they got ugly and overt. Cut Angel's budget, you say? When it went up in the ratings and still kicked major ass, their thanks came in the form of an axe. I'll never forgive them for that, and I mean never with a hot, steaming side of "no, not ever".

I don't watch the WB any more, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that their ratings have gone into the crapper. I used to check out other shows that aired around AtS, and now it's as if that network no longer exists. I imagine that's the case for a lot of former fans. Sadly (for them, anyway), except for Angel the transition was painless; they made it entirely too easy for me to forget to tune in. Just flipping past 'the Frog' on the way to other channels, I catch bits of commercials for one mawkish soap opera after another, interspersed with lame, played-out reality shows featuring third-tier actors and high-school reunion 'personalities' (not a star among them) that will be forgotten in a year's time. Yeah, I'm really missing out on some quality entertainment, I can tell.
Anyone seen the "10 years of great TV" montages the WB has been airing lately? Buffy and Angel are both in the mix. Got to say it hit a sore spot with me. I think I got a little too upset :)

Just found this mentioned in a thread a few days ago. Sorry, don't know how I missed it the first time. Glad to see someone else feels my pain though :)

[ edited by cold rain on 2005-01-12 17:08 ]
*points and laughs mockingly at the WB*

That will teach you for cancelling our shows.

*cough* I'm so mean.

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