The Player: The CW (formed from the merger of UPN and WB netlets).
Key Executive: Bill Morningstar, exec VP-media sales
The Ratings Game: Season to date (Sept. 19, 2005, to April 23) the CBS-owned UPN is down in adults 18 to 49 by 7%. In adults 18-34, the demographic most closely targeted by UPN, ratings are flat, a positive story for a network that effectively lost much of its promotional muscle with affiliates. Season to date, the average rating and share at UPN is 1.4 /4. The WB's ratings are also down, 7%, to a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, while in the younger category it is equal with UPN with a 1.4 rating.
What You'll Hear: "Programming is a strength. Taking shows from both networks and making a meaningful offering. That would take a long time to build and we have it out of the gate," Mr. Morningstar said. "It gives us a clear focus on young adults." Mr. Morningstar has also formalized his new sales team, naming Rob Tuck, senior VP-ad sales, as his No. 2.
Last Year's Upfront: The news in January that the WB and UPN were planning to merge signaled that neither Time Warner nor CBS were having an easy time making their respective ventures profitable. During last year's upfront, the WB's tally grew slightly, to $675 million, up from $670 million, while UPN gained ad commitments of $375 million, up from $350 million the year before. This upfront, youth-targeting competitors are making a run at that combined total. The consensus is that the CW might hold on to some $700 million.
The Buyer's Verdict: Aaron Cohen, exec VP-director of national broadcast at Horizon Media, said: "We don't know the schedule yet and can only summarize the programs they select will clearly address the 18-34 audience and will skew female. It's an attractive opportunity, given that they've achieved approximately 90% distribution." Mr. Cohen expects that pricing will be higher because the CW is a new network and the assumption is the programming is the best of the best.