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January 25, 2006

What does major shakeup mean for WB/UPN shows?

The big news in the entertainment industry today (well, technically yesterday now) has been the announced merger of the two newest American television networks, the WB and UPN. Both groups, who have competed consistently for the "number five" spot among Neilson ratings, have had a few successes over the years but have lacked the ability to pull themselves far enough into success to avoid constant concern about folding.

The stations obviously hope that the merger will strenghen the lineup and make a fifth network alternative a permanent reality. At this point, the two stations will be taking the best shows in their lineup to put on the merged network in the fall.

Already, fan communties invovled in the various WB and UPN shows are concerned as to how this might affect their shows. The negatives is that some shows will have to be dropped when the networks are chosen. On the other hand, the positive is that the lineup for the new network--which will be called the CW Network--should be a much stronger contender.

How should the executives interact with the fan bases to decide what to keep and what to discard from the network lineup? What are the futures of shows that don't make the cut? Is this a place where transmedia could come in, where the network could promote shows that can't make the television lineup through the Internet?

Should the network think about branding itself in choosing content or instead choose the top shows from both networks, even if they don't fall into a consistent brand?

(Oh, and don't worry--it appears WWE Smackdown is safe!)

For more information on the big merger, see the full press release here.

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