|Type||Broadcast television network|
|Slogan||TV to Talk About|
|Area||United States, Canada, Philippines, northern Mexico, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, France|
|Owner||CBS Corporation: 50%
Warner Bros. (Time Warner): 50%
|Key people||Dawn Ostroff|
|Launch date||September 18, 2006|
|Picture format||480i (SD)
|Callsign meaning||CBS and Warner Brothers|
The CW Television Network (The CW) is a television network in the United States launched at the beginning of the 2006–2007 television season. It is a joint venture between CBS Corporation, the former owners of United Paramount Network (UPN), and Time Warner's Warner Bros., former majority owner of The WB Television Network. The "CW" name is derived from the first letter of the names of these corporations (CBS and Warner Bros.). The network features a lineup of shows that, according to its President of Entertainment Dawn Ostroff, "appeal to women 18 to 34-years-old."  The network currently airs programming 6 days a week: Monday through Friday afternoons and evenings (in prime time), and Saturday morning children's programming.
The network debuted programming after its two predecessors, UPN and The WB, ceased independent operations on, respectively, September 15 and September 17, 2006. The CW's first two nights of programming—Monday and Tuesday, September 18 and September 19, 2006—consisted of reruns and launch-related specials. The CW marked its formal launch date on Wednesday, September 20, 2006, with a 2-hour season premiere of America's Next Top Model.
The CW is a successor to The WB and UPN, both of which launched in January 1995. However, both networks can be seen as descendants of the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN), a joint venture between Warner Bros. and Chris-Craft Industries, which launched in 1993. The two companies later became partners in The WB and UPN, respectively, and PTEN continued as a separate syndication service until folding in 1997.
Both UPN and The WB started just as the Fox network had begun to secure a foothold in the American viewing lineup. Both launched to limited fanfare and generally poor results. However, in the subsequent 11 1/2 seasons, both networks were able to air several series that became quite popular, such as UPN's Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Moesha, The Parkers, Girlfriends, All Of Us, Veronica Mars, SmackDown and WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) , Angel, Dawson's Creek, 7th Heaven, Felicity, Charmed, Everwood, and Smallville.
Towards the end of their opening decade, both television networks were in decline, unable to reach the audience or have the effect that Fox had gained within its first decade, much less that of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC). In the eleven years UPN and the WB were on the air, the two networks lost a combined $2 billion. Rather than facing questionable futures as separate networks, executives from CBS and Warner announced on January 24, 2006, that they would shut down their respective networks (UPN and WB) and combine resources to form a new broadcast network, to be known as The CW Television Network, that would at the outset feature programming from both networks as well as new content.
CBS chairman Les Moonves explained that the name of the new network was formed from the first letters of CBS and Warner Bros, joking, "we couldn't call it the WC for obvious reasons." Although some executives reportedly disliked the new name, Moonves stated in March that there was "zero chance" the name would change, citing research claiming 48% of the target demographic was already aware of the CW name.
Like both UPN and The WB, The CW targets its programming to younger audiences. CBS and Warner Bros. hoped that combining their networks' schedules and station lineups would strengthen The CW into a fifth "major" broadcast network. Unlike the "Big Four" broadcast networks, The CW does not offer national news or sports programming to their affiliates; however, some affiliates do broadcast local news and/or sports, and many, mostly CW Plus stations, air the nationally syndicated Orlando-based morning show, The Daily Buzz.
The CW launched with a premiere special/launch party from CBS-produced Entertainment Tonight at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank on September 18, 2006, after a repeat of the 7th Heaven 10th-season finale; the same schedule was repeated on September 19, 2006 with Gilmore Girls' 6th-season finale. The network continued to air season finales from the previous season through the rest of the first week, except for America's Next Top Model and SmackDown!, which launched their new seasons on September 20 and September 22 respectively, with full-night premieres. When America's Next Top Model launched on September 20, 2006, The CW scored a 3.4/5 (with hourly ratings of 3.1/5 and 3.6/6; The CW placed 5th overall) in the households. It scored a 2.6 rating in the Adults 18-49, finishing fourth in that demographic and beating Fox's 2.2. The network's second week consisted of all season/series premieres for all other series from September 25-October 1, with the exception of Veronica Mars, which debuted its third season on October 3.
WWE Friday Night SmackDown stopped airing on The CW after the September 26, 2008 episode due to negotiations ending between WWE and The CW Network. The network later confirmed that the CW had chosen not to continue the WWE broadcast because the network had redefined its target audience as exclusively 18- to 34-year-old women. Thanks to the WWE, MyNetworkTV has beaten The CW in the Friday ratings every week since its debut, though The CW continues to beat MyNetworkTV overall.
On May 9, 2008, The CW announced it would lease its Sunday lineup (5:00-10:00 p.m. ET) to an outside company, Media Rights Capital (MRC). The move allowed The CW to concentrate on its Monday-thru-Friday schedule (Sundays have historically been a low-rated night for the network) while giving MRC the right to develop and schedule programs of its own choosing and reap ad revenue generated by its lineup. The Sunday series that were scheduled—2 reality series (4Real and In Harm's Way) and 2 scripted series (Valentine and Easy Money)—performed poorly in the ratings (averaging only 1.04 million viewers), prompting The CW to scrap its agreement with MRC and program Sunday nights on its own as of November 30, 2008, adding reruns of The Drew Carey Show and Jericho and movies. The MRC series halted production the previous month, with Valentine and Easy Money not returning until July and August 2009, when they aired burned off unaired episodes on Sunday evenings at 7pm ET/PT before the Sunday night movie. Surviving Suburbia, another MRC-developed show that had a planned Spring 2009 debut on the CW Sunday schedule, remained in production and was eventually picked up by ABC.
The CW has generally struggled in the Nielsen ratings since its inception, primarily placing fifth in all Nielsen statistics, and in several slots, has even been outrated by the Spanish language Univision. This has led to speculation in the industry (including a May 16, 2008 Wall Street Journal article) that CBS, Warner Brothers, or both companies could abandon the venture if ratings do not improve. However, The CW's fortunes were buoyed in the fall of 2008 and 2009 thanks to increased ratings in its 18-34 female demographic and the buzz that some of its newer series (such as Gossip Girl , 90210 and The Vampire Diaries) have generated. Executives of both companies have emphasized their commitment to the network. Indeed, the CW's 2009-2010 season is a firm go to launch in mid-September 2009, although the network did discuss the idea of an earlier launch for the season—as early as July 2009—in an effort to get ahead of the other networks' fall premieres and to help offset poor performances of summer repeats.
On May 5, 2009, the network announced it was beginning the process of giving the five hours of network time on Sundays back to the CW affiliates as of fall 2009, thus becoming a weeknight-only network in primetime, along with The CW Daytime and The CW4Kids Saturday block. Subsequently in mid-May, 65% of the network's affiliates, including those airing the CW Plus schedule, have signed agreements to continue to air the replacement MGM movie package on Sunday, which will be offered in the 2009-10 season through MGM's syndication division as a traditional movie syndication package meant for the CW's former Sunday primetime slot.
Following the network announcement, The CW immediately announced ten-year affiliation agreements with the Tribune Company and CBS Television Stations Group. Tribune originally committed 16 stations (including its flagship broadcast stations WGN-TV in Chicago, KTLA in Los Angeles and WPIX in New York; another committed station, KSWB/San Diego, joined Fox in August 2008) that were previously affiliated with The WB, while CBS committed 11 of its UPN stations (including WKBD in Detroit, WPSG in Philadelphia, KBHK-TV in San Francisco [now KBCW] and WUPA in Atlanta). These stations combine to reach 48 percent of the United States. Both groups also own several UPN/WB stations that did not join The CW in overlapping markets. As part of its agreement, Tribune agreed to divest its interest in The WB and did not take an ownership interest in The CW.
The network stated that it would eventually reach 95 percent of the United States. In markets where both UPN and The WB affiliates operate, only one station became a CW affiliate. Executives were on record as preferring the "strongest" stations among existing The WB and UPN affiliates. For example, the new network's first affiliate outside the core group of Tribune and CBS-owned stations, WJZY in Charlotte, was tied with Atlanta's WUPA as UPN's fifth-strongest station. In most cases, it was obvious where the new network would affiliate; there were only a few markets (for example, Philadelphia, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Charlotte and Atlanta) where the WB and UPN affiliates were both relatively strong.
Many of the affiliates were previously affiliated with the WB or UPN. Very few were independents prior to joining the CW. One of the first to be announced was the consistent #1 WB affiliate in the Orlando/Central Florida market, WKCF. After becoming a CW affiliate, they did not immediately become the #1 CW affiliate, but roughly after one year, WKCF resumed their role as the top CW affiliate, winning multiple awards for promotions and viewing, just as they did as a WB affiliate.
Although it was generally understood that The CW was a merger of UPN and The WB, the new network's creation was not structured as a merger in the legal sense. Rather, it was one new network launching at the same time two others shut down. As such, The CW was not obligated by existing affiliations with The WB and UPN; it had to negotiate from scratch with individual stations.
As a result, in several markets, the CW affiliate is a different station than either the former The WB and UPN stations. In Helena, Montana, ION affiliate KMTF became a CW station. In Las Vegas, Nevada, independent station KVCW signed for CW affiliation. The network has also affiliated with some digital channels, usually newly-launched subchannels of a local Big Four affiliate, in several other markets.
Due to the availability of "instant duopoly" digital subchannels that will likely be easily available on cable and satellite, and the overall lack of a need to settle for a secondary affiliation with shows aired in problematic timeslots, both The CW and MyNetworkTV launched with far greater national coverage than that enjoyed by UPN and The WB when they started in 1995. UPN for several years had gaps in the top 30 markets, and by 2005 managed to cover only 86% of the country. This resulted in secondary affiliations with other networks and the resulting diluted ratings when programs were shown out of their intended timeslots, or the lack of the program airing at all (a problem experienced by many Star Trek fans with Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise).
The announcement of The CW caused the largest single shakeup of U.S. broadcast television since the Fox/New World Communications alliance of 1994 and the subsequent launches of UPN and The WB the following year. While The CW debut affected more markets, it was unlikely to cause the same degree of viewer confusion, as no affiliates of the four major networks dropped those affiliations to join The CW. (Some "big four" affiliations did change at this time, but for unrelated reasons.)
The WB and UPN were the first major television networks to close since the collapse of the DuMont Television Network in 1955, although other small broadcast television networks have also ceased operations over the years.
It became clear that Fox Television Stations, which purchased several UPN affiliates from former UPN co-owner Chris-Craft Industries in 2002, was impacted. Its UPN affiliates in five major markets would not be affiliated with The CW, due to the agreement with Tribune, and Fox made it clear it would not even seek the affiliation for its four UPN stations elsewhere. All UPN logos and network references were quickly removed from their stations. Shortly thereafter, Fox announced that it was starting MyNetworkTV, a programming service meant to fill the two nightly prime time hours that opened up on its UPN-affiliated stations after the start of The CW. Fox also offered the service to other stations.
In those media markets where there were separate The WB and UPN stations, one local station was left out in the merger; most of those stations have signed with MyNetworkTV while others elected to become independent stations. Some stations (mainly digital subchannels, some WB 100+ cable channels, and struggling low-power stations) which received neither network's affiliation opted instead to sign off permanently and cease to exist.
Some households around the country were not able to see the new network when it premiered on September 18, due to stations in several markets not being able to strike a deal with Time Warner Cable. In markets like Charleston, South Carolina; El Paso, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Palm Springs, California; Beaumont, Texas; Waco, Texas; and Corpus Christi, Texas, where the CW is broadcast on a digital subchannel of the station's primary affiliate, there have been unsuccessful attempts in getting Time Warner Cable to carry The CW on their basic cable lineups. The CW is 50% owned by Time Warner Cable's former parent company, Time Warner.
Some affiliates have since signed deals with Time Warner Cable, but not all stations have landed within the analog listings. For example, WSTQ-LP in Syracuse, New York can only be viewed on channel 266.(In the Ithaca market only.) 
Currently, the largest market without a known affiliate is the Johnstown / Altoona market, Nielsen's DMA #101. WPCW channel 19, in Pittsburgh, is the closest affiliate and is carried on both Johnstown and Altoona's cable systems; WPCW was originally targeted to serve that area before a switch to a Pittsburgh focus in the late 90's.
On February 2, 2007 at 4:30 p.m., KFDM-TV made its CW affiliated available to Time Warner Cable in Beaumont, Texas on Channel 10 and also available on Digital 6.2. Although the Southeast Texas CW Logo is on commercials made by KFDM-TV, on the television shows the bug is just "the CW."
One of the major affiliate groups of the network, Pappas Telecasting, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for thirteen of their stations on May 10, 2008. Within the petition, Pappas specifically cited the network's low ratings and performance as one of many complications that had forced it to take the action . Several of the stations have since been sold in either business transactions with Pappas's bankruptcy officials or via station auction processes as Pappas winds down operations.
Although the company had originally stated that no stations would be affected at all by the closing, one Pappas station with CW affiliation has ceased operations. On May 29, 2008, KCWK, a Yakima, Washington-based station serving the south central portion of that state, went off the air and the station's offices were closed, leaving that area without locally based CW programming and forcing cable and satellite companies to carry KTLA from Los Angeles on their systems to provide the network to their viewers. The situation was resolved when Fisher Communications announced that their CBS affiliates in the area (KIMA-TV/KEPR-TV) would pick up subchannel affiliations at the beginning of April 2009.
It should be noted that while they have solid affiliation deals with The CW, Tribune also has affiliation deals with Fox. But with new management and ownership at Tribune, it was apparent that Tribune would start moving one of its CW-affiliated stations to Fox (at least those in markets without a Fox O&O station or a former O&O now owned by Local TV LLC), adding to more questions surrounding The CW's future. In a seminar by Sam Zell in March 2008, the Tribune Chairman/CEO revealed that their San Diego outlet KSWB-TV will switch affiliations from The CW to Fox in August 2008, with KSWB assuming the Fox affiliation from XETV, a 1986 charter affiliate of Fox. XETV (which is licensed to Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico under the ownership of Televisa but whose US operations are programmed by Bay City TV) was caught off guard and was not informed of Zell's deal until it was made public in the trades. After the news, XETV planned on fighting the affiliation switch in court on the grounds that the switch would violate a contract XETV has with Fox to run until 2010. But on July 2, 2008, XETV announced that they would join The CW on August 1 and rebrand as "San Diego 6, the new home of The CW," the same day KSWB became "Fox 5."
Though the thirteen other Tribune-owned CW affiliates have kept their affiliation, twelve of them have changed station's branding, de-emphasizing references to the network in favor of a stronger local identity. Most stations' changeovers took effect on September 1, 2008 (the start of The CW's new season), although rebranding for some began as early as July, either on-air (in the case of KWGN-TV) or through early unveiling on their websites as part of a redesign of all of Tribune's station sites, including their non-CW stations. The following table lists the Tribune-owned CW affiliates who have undergone a non-CW rebranding:
|City||Station||Former Branding||New Branding||Other Notes|
|New York, New York||WPIX||CW 11||PIX 11||The new image reads "PIX 11" and updates a classic "circle-11" image. The station's spoken identity is simply "PIX" (pronounced "picks").|
|Los Angeles, California||KTLA||KTLA 5, The CW||KTLA 5||The station's branding hasn't changed, but CW references have been limited. The station re-introduce the stylized "5" logo, which was used during the 80s & through the mid-90s.|
|Dallas, Texas||KDAF||CW 33||The 33||Prior to the change, while keeping the CW 33 logo, the station branding was briefly "KDAF 33".|
|Washington, DC||WDCW||The CW Washington||DC 50||The logo features the "DC" with the silhouette of the dome of Capitol Building & the "50" next to it.|
|Houston, Texas||KIAH||CW 39||Channel 39||Prior to the change, on July 15, 2008, the station changed their calls from KHCW to KIAH.|
|Denver, Colorado||KWGN||CW 2||KWGN The Deuce||The first station on this list to change branding, unveiling their identity as simply "2" on July 7, 2008. In March 2009, under a new combined management with KDVR, the station rebranded as "The Deuce" in an attempt to attract a younger audience. Though the CW logo is incorporated in the new KWGN logo, it is not included in the station's spoken identity.|
|Miami, Florida||WSFL||CW South Florida||SFL||The "S" in the new "SFL" logo is in reference of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper logo; the station now has their facilities co-located with the newspaper and will launch a newscast in 2009 with contributions from the Sun-Sentinel.|
|St. Louis, Missouri||KPLR||CW 11||KPLR 11||The new logo features an italicized "11" and returns the Gateway Arch motif seen in previous KPLR logos.|
|Portland, Oregon||KRCW||Portland's CW||NW 32 TV||Though the station's web address briefly changed to Portlands32.com, it still used the "Portland's CW" branding until April 2009.|
|Indianapolis, Indiana||WTTV||CW 4||Indiana's 4||The station's red-and-white logo features the stars and torch found on the Flag of Indiana.|
|Hartford, Connecticut||WTXX||CW 20||txx|
|New Orleans, Louisiana||WNOL||New Orleans' CW 38||NOLA 38||The logo features the fleur-de-lis symbol in the background, a common symbol of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana's French heritage.|
Some of these stations would limit references by either using the CW Logo next to their local logos or verbally state "The CW" after the station branding for CW programming promotions. As for WGN and KTLA, they have long used their callsigns in their identification.
KPLR-TV, a Tribune-owned affiliate in St. Louis, received permission from the network to experiment with a scheduling shift meant to drive viewers to its newscast and serve an audience not usually programmed to in the timeslot that newscast is vacating. As of September 8, 2008, the station shifted their 9 p.m. newscast to 7 p.m. on weeknights to lead into the CW schedule, which now airs from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. instead of the network's usual Central Time Zone berth of 7 p.m.-9 p.m., in the hope that the network's later youth-appealing shows will do better against network competition which appeals to an older audience, and also moving their newscast away from Fox affiliate KTVI's higher-rated show and into a timeslot where no news currently airs in the St. Louis market. Two weeks after the scheduling changes were announced, Local TV LLC, which owns KTVI and manages the Tribune stations as part of a December 2007 agreement, made it known that the two stations would merge news and programming operations into KPLR's newer studios in October 2008. The same agreement is also in place for KWGN and KDVR in Denver, which will combine operations in KDVR's facilities.
At the network's first upfront presentation — May 18, 2006 — the provisional blue-and-white rectangle logo that was used during the network's formation announcement in January was replaced by a green-and-white, curved-letter insignia that drew comparisons to the logo of CNN, another company with Time Warner ownership interest.
The network's original full marketing campaign, "Free to Be", was created internally and by the Troika Design Group brand agency. The campaign included advertisements in bus stops, on billboards, on the Internet, in magazines, and on television. It contained stars of the CW shows such as Supernatural, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, America's Next Top Model, Smallville and One Tree Hill with the network's signature green background. The "Free to Be" was followed by a word unique to the character, show, or scene. Such descriptives included "witty" (to describe Gilmore Girls), "super" (Smallville), "scary" (Supernatural), "fierce" (America's Next Top Model), "cool" (One Tree Hill), "funny" (Everybody Hates Chris), "fearless" (Veronica Mars), "fabulous" (Girlfriends), "family" (7th Heaven) and "tough" (WWE Friday Night SmackDown). The ads normally ended with one more descriptive, "together", used to unify the network and its programming with the viewer. Some additional spots were themed for other purposes without CW stars, for example "Free to be tricky" (for Halloween) and "Free to be famous" for The CW Daytime.
On August 6, 2007, The CW launched their second marketing campaign, "Get Into It", performed by the lead singer of Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger. The original title for the song is "Puakenikeni", which is the third single from Nicole's debut album Her Name Is Nicole. A remix is now used during the commercials.
On May 21, 2009, the CW released a promotional picture of Gossip Girl star Jessica Szohr with the words "TV to Talk About." In June 2009, The Fall promotional trailer was released. The promo changes the word 'talk' each time, these words include blog, tweet, IM and then change back to tv to 'talk' about. This appears every time a program returns from an advertisement break.
The CW Network airs a 10-hour primetime lineup Monday through Friday nights from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Outside of prime time, the network airs a Monday-Friday afternoon block from 3:00-5:00 p.m. ET and a five-hour Saturday morning animation block. Altogether, the network programs 25 hours per week over six days.
On January 24, 2006, The WB, Kids' WB's original broadcaster, announced they would merge with UPN to form The CW Television Network. The combined network utilized The WB's scheduling practices and brought the Kids' WB block, still run by Warner Bros. Television, and still maintaining its name, to the new lineup.
On October 2, 2007, the network announced that due to a joint decision between Warner Bros. and CBS, (parent companies of The CW), it would suspend the Kids' WB programming block due to the effects of children's advertising limits and cable competition and sell the programming time to 4Kids Entertainment. Kids' WB ended broadcasting operations on May 17, 2008.
4Kids launched The CW4Kids block in place of the Kids' WB block on May 24, 2008. The lineup for the block consists of 4Kids produced shows such as Chaotic as well as new seasons of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The CW broadcasts all of their dramas in high definition, while the network's reality series, daytime and children's programming are still in standard definition. The network is available in HD on most of their full-power affiliates, while availability on those affiliates with subchannel or cable-exclusive affiliations varies by market; in some of these cases a standard definition signal is only available terrestrially, while the station offers an exclusive high definition feed to cable and satellite operators.