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UPN: We Beat The WB
Thu, Nov 29, 2001 04:24 PM PDT
by Vanessa Sibbald
Zap2it.com, TV News
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – While UPN isn’t in the lead for November sweeps, or even in the top three, network chief Dean Valentine is pleased as punch at the results. Why? Because the newest broadcast network on the block managed to beat its main competitor, The WB, in viewers (4.5 million vs. 4.2 million), the key adults 18-49 demographic (2.0/5 vs. 1.8/5) and in in adults 18-34 (2.1/6 vs. 2.0/6).
“We have really become the new destination for young adults — not just women, but men and women,” says COO Adam Ware with a dig towards The WB, which attracts mostly female viewers.
UPN had five main objectives this season, says Valentine: to launch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Enterprise” successfully; to establish 8 p.m. anchors for each night; grown in all adult demographic ratings across the week; to reinforce its brand as the alternative destination for all young adults; and to increase its advertising profits.
“Now with the end of November sweeps, I’m pleased to say we’ve achieved all those goals, and then some,” says Valentine.
The network pulled the best quarter in the history of the network, the best sweeps since 1997 among total viewers and all adult demographics and the best sweeps ever since UPN expanded to five nights of programming. What makes this impressive is that the numbers were driven by many nights, not just one or two shows, unlike last year when the network’s only solid success was its “WWF Smackdown!” series.
Ironically, “Smackdown” is the show that suffered most this November, dipping 19 percent in viewers and showing decreases across all demographic ratings.
While the new shows “Enterprise” and “Buffy” have been hits since their debuts, “Roswell,” which like “Buffy” moved from The WB to UPN, has been getting slaughtered in the ratings, averaging a mere 1.4/3 in adults 18-49, compared to “Buffy’s” 2.6/7. Valentine says that the network is still deciding whether or not to start production the show’s remaining 9 episodes (the network ordered the full season with the option of cutting back the order to only 13 episodes).
“We’re getting very close to making a decision. My best guess is that this is a show that deserves a little more time to find itself,” he tells Zap2it.com.
However, they do plan to test other shows in the timeslot, a key one since it follows “Buffy.” In midseason, UPN will insert two half-hour comedies at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays; an American version of the hit British comedy “As If” about a group of young people, and “Random Years,” which follows three guys living in an apartment in New York. The shows will air while “Roswell” is in repeats.
“But that doesn’t mean ‘Roswell’ is cancelled,” Valentine stresses.
The show Valentine is hoping will get cancelled is “Buffy’s” spin-off “Angel,” which currently airs on The WB. The series has dipped since last year in adults 18-49 (2.3/5 this year to last season’s 2.5/6) and in viewers (4.8 million vs. 5.2 million).
“We’re hoping that they feel upset with ‘Angel’ and give it to us,” he laughs.
As part of its deal with 20th Century Fox for “Buffy,” UPN is contractually obligated to pick up the series if it gets cancelled by the Frog.