This decision comes on the heels of two other moves that failed to lift CW ratings for the night. The change is expected to take effect starting this fall; it will be part of their upfront announcement in two weeks.
A CW spokesman issued a statement: "As we plan our 2009-2010 fall launch, we are in talks with several of our top affiliate partners about a number of creative and mutually beneficial actions that will build on our growing record of success.
"These discussions include an evolution of the strategy, which began this season, to focus the CW's resources on Monday through Friday nights," he added. "As a result, we are now exploring the transition of Sunday night to our affiliates."
After suffering low ratings for all its two years of existence on Sunday, the CW made a transitional move. Last September, it gave three hours of programming to Media Rights Capital to program and schedule. The CW also struck an advertising revenue-sharing agreement with MRC.
While some of those shows had some decent reviews, viewers -- for the most part -- didn't tune in. Six weeks after the MRC started the new venture, it ended in November.
Since then, CW has been running reruns of CBS drama "Jericho" and an evening prime-time movie. But ratings weren't much better, earning 0.2 to 0.3 ratings in both 18-49 and 18-34 demographics.
CW has also been programming a two-hour Sunday afternoon block from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., airing a number of older comedies, such as "The Drew Carey Show" from the Warner Bros. library. Warner Bros. is a 50-50 partner with CBS in the CW.
TV station executives have complained about the network's low Sunday night ratings since the network started, contending they could do better by programming the night locally. Giving stations back the time for local programming has another affiliate upside: It means that stations have all the advertising inventory to sell.
Right now, CW's ad time arrangement gives TV stations seven minutes to sell to local advertisers. The CW gets seven minutes to sell to national advertisers. Initially, when the network started, CW gave its affiliates an even more favorable nine minutes to sell, leaving the network with five.