MyNetwork TV Regroups, Results Mixed

MyNetworkTV is producing some notable ratings gains in its sophomore season, albeit after a bumbling first go-round and a low base. Still, its prospects are murky.

A month after launch, the network with overhauled programming is posting a 33% jump in its target 18-to-49 demo. A reality show from the producers of Fox's "Cops" is delivering its highest ratings, while a promising NFL preview show is at the bottom. Two new series debuted this week to little success.

The network's number might make a mid-tier cable network happy. A year ago, its attempt at running a lineup with only telenovelas failed, prompting the seeds of change last spring. An MNTV representative did not immediately provide comment.

The News Corp.-owned network is averaging a .4 in "live plus same day" ratings (520,000 viewers) for the 18-to-49 demo from its Sept. 4 season debut through Sept. 30--compared to a .3 (390,000) at the same point a year ago. (Household ratings are flat at a .7.) "Jail," which follows inmates as they are put behind bars, has delivered a .7 average (910,000) as the leading show.



"They're not, at this point, a viable sixth network--not with those type of numbers," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate research director at Horizon Media.

Still, TV Week reported the network's new programming approach--jettisoning the telenovelas--has attracted 35 new advertisers and its revenue intake this season is more than $50 million.

"Jail" has built on its lead-in, "The Academy," on the night MNTV is billing as "Crimetime Tuesday." The show about recruits looking to become Los Angeles sheriffs is pulling in a .5 (650,000 viewers.

Somewhat surprisingly, even though it does air on Saturdays when viewing levels are down, "NFL Network Total Access," a preview show focusing on games in the most popular sports league, is only averaging a .2 (260,000 viewers) after four episodes. It was considered a coup by the network when it landed the series.

"Celebrity Expose," a sort of "E! True Hollywood Story," and "Control Room Presents," featuring well-known live music acts, just launched Monday as a block--and neither proved to be a game-changer. "Expose" posted a .4 among 18- to-49-year-olds, but "Control Room" plummeted to a .1 (130,000 viewers), albeit in a tough time slot.

The network's Thursday and Friday movies have delivered a .5 and .4, respectively.

MyNetworkTV's refashioned checkerboard programming differs from its previous six nights a week of stripped telenovelas. It is being overseen by Greg Meidel, who took over entertainment operations last spring.

News Corp. has indicated that jump-starting MNTV is a priority, since the network runs on owned-and-operated stations in four of the top-five DMAs, as well as Washington and Houston. All have duopolies with Fox stations.

"They have valuable real estate," Adgate said.

Previously, those former UPN stations would have offered fare such as "America's Top Model" and "Everybody Hates Chris."

Still, with the Fox network, MySpace and now The Wall Street Journal, the local station business is losing some emphasis within News Corp. In fact, nine stations are for sale.

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