CW Dumps MRC's Sunday Night Run

CBS' JerichoIn the end, no matter how financially protected you are, low ratings do not serve any network well. The CW found out the hard way, which explains why it has officially dumped its year-long Sunday nighttime buy deal with outside producer Media Rights Capital two months into its existence.

"The MRC shows are simply not working," wrote John Matta, chief operating officer of the CW, in a letter to CW affiliates. "To that end, we have made a business and programming decision to protect our network and your local interests on Sunday for the remainder of the season."

Starting Nov. 30, the CW will resume programming Sunday nights--first by offering reruns of the CBS show "Jericho" at 7 p.m., which will be followed by a MGM movie package from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Earlier in the afternoon/evening, CW will air episodes of "Everybody Hates Chris" and "The Game" in the 5 p.m. hour. This will be followed by reruns of "The Drew Carey Show" at 6 p.m.



While CW was given a firm financial guarantee from Media Rights Capital to program the network's Sunday night lineup, this did not mean that the network disappeared from the picture. It still ran promotions for its lineup in low-rated Sunday night TV shows. In addition, it was still involved in selling the advertising inventory for Media Right Capital--much of it at low rates.

A quartet of MRC shows--"4Real," "In Harm's Way," "Valentine" and "Easy Money--pulled in tiny viewership--with numbers in the 0.2-rating range and in some cases, a technical zero share for various episodes. Many shows barely got over 500,000 viewers on a given night. Overall, these numbers were well below the ratings CW pulled in a year ago when it was programming its Sunday night schedule.

CW said the deal did help to reallocate marketing sources to other shows this year--reviving "Gossip Girl" and startup rookie "90210." These shows now complement an already high-rated "America's Next Top Model," as well as pushing up numbers for veteran show "One Tree Hill."

Bigger problems arose in what the MRC deal did locally; CW affiliates had a difficult time selling the Sunday-night slate to local advertisers. In addition, the value of the CW brand was affected. Viewers could not distinguish between CW shows--backed by its two owners CBS and Warner Bros.--and those from Media Rights Capital.

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