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MyNetworkTV is an American television network/syndication service that is owned by Fox Corporation, operated by its Fox Television Stations division, and distributed through the syndication structure of Fox First Run.
MyNetworkTV began operations on September 5, 2006 with an initial affiliate lineup covering about 96% of the country, most of which consisted of stations that were former affiliates of The WB and UPN that did not join the successor of those two networks, The CW. Under the ownership structure of Fox Corporation, the service is incorporated as a subsidiary company known as MyNetworkTV, Inc.
On September 28, 2009, following disappointment with the network’s results, MyNetworkTV dropped its status as a television network and transitioned into a programming service, similar to Ion Television, relying mainly on repeats of recent broadcast and cable series. Fox Corporation retained MyNetworkTV after the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company was completed on March 20, 2019.
MyNetworkTV arose from the January 2006 announcement of the launch of The CW, a television network formed by CBS Corporation and Time Warner which essentially combined programming from The WB and UPN onto the scheduling model of the former of the two predecessors.
As a result of several deals earlier in the decade, Fox Television Stations owned several UPN affiliates, including the network’s three largest stations: WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey (part of the New York City market), KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and WPWR-TV in Chicago.
Fox had acquired WWOR and KCOP after purchasing most of the television holdings of UPN’s founding partner Chris-Craft Industries, while WPWR was purchased by the company in 2003 from Newsweb Corporation. Despite concerns about UPN’s future that came up after Fox purchased the Chris-Craft stations, UPN signed three-year affiliation renewals with the network’s Fox-owned affiliates in 2003.
That agreement’s pending expiration, along with those involving other broadcasting companies, in 2006 as well as persistent financial losses for both it and The WB gave CBS Corporation (the parent company of UPN) and Time Warner (parent of The WB) the rare opportunity to merge their respective struggling networks into The CW.
The CW’s initial affiliation agreements did not include any of the UPN stations (nor alone independent station) owned by Fox Television Stations. In fact, as part of a ten-year affiliation deal with The WB’s part-owner, Tribune Broadcasting, the coveted New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago affiliations all went to Tribune-owned stations (WPIX, KTLA and WGN-TV, respectively).
In response to the announcement, Fox promptly removed all network references from logos and promotional materials on its UPN affiliates and ceased on-air promotion of UPN’s programs altogether. However, in all three cases (especially in the cases of Los Angeles and Chicago), the WB affiliate was the higher-rated station; CW executives were on record as preferring the “strongest” WB and UPN affiliates.
Media reports speculated that the Fox-owned UPN affiliates would all revert to being independent stations, or else form another network by uniting with other UPN and WB affiliated stations that were left out of The CW’s affiliation deals. Fox chose the latter route and announced the launch of MyNetworkTV on February 22, 2006, less than a month after CBS and Time Warner announced the formation of The CW on January 24.
It was reported by The Guardian that Fox would utilize MySpace, the social networking website its parent company, News Corporation, had acquired in 2005, to help promote MyNetworkTV. Fox would also utilize MySpace’s content-sharing model when it launched MyNetworkTV’s website. There were also rumors that MyNetworkTV’s branding was inspired by that of MySpace’s.
MyNetworkTV began operations on Tuesday, September 5, 2006, with the premieres of its two initial series. Some affiliates unofficially began branding their stations well beforehand in July into August to allow viewers to grow accustomed to their new brandings, though most fulfilled their existing WB and UPN network commitments and did not start branding in earnest until September 1 (the Friday before), when the majority of those affiliate agreements expired.
The network provided a block of preview programming that aired the day before on September 4, though it did not launch officially that day due to the low audience figures traditionally associated with the Labor Day holiday.
Initially, programming aired Monday through Saturdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific Time). In April 2013, MyNetworkTV broadcasts ten hours of primetime programming each week, airing on Monday through Friday evenings from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. MyNetworkTV does not offer weekend programming, the only broadcast service not to in the United States.
Heavy local sports preemptions were previously a problem for MyNetworkTV at its launch, as they were for all of the U.S. broadcast networks that have debuted since the January 1995 launches of The WB and UPN.
However, these have become less of an issue with the end of the network’s telenovela strategy, where an airing of the pre-empted telenovela episode rescheduled as soon as possible on the same day as required by default rather than the flexibility that affiliates of UPN, The WB or The CW had to push a show off to a weekend slot.
With the service’s switch to an all-rerun schedule in 2009, this effectively allows stations to pre-empt repeat programming at will to fit in sporting events (mainly those provided by syndication services such as ESPN Regional Television and the ACC Network, as some local events that had aired on its affiliates have moved to regional sports networks in the time since MyNetworkTV launched) without much consequence.
During the telenovela era, affiliates often scheduled contractual “make goods” of the network’s daily schedule between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. local time. Not only are these light viewing hours, but they air after Nielsen processes its preliminary morning network ratings.
MyNetworkTV has 186 owned-and-operated or affiliate stations in the United States, reaching 84.39% of all U.S. households with at least one television set (totaling approximately 263,699,742 homes). This number includes six stations owned at the time of its launch by companies involved in the founding of competitor The CW: three were owned by Tribune Broadcasting (located in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Seattle), and three owned by CBS Corporation (the Gannett Company purchased Atlanta affiliate WATL from Tribune shortly after Fox confirmed it as a MyNetworkTV affiliate, with the sale being finalized on August 7, 2006).
The Tribune Company sold its stake in The WB, in exchange for long-term affiliation contracts with The CW (Time Warner and CBS jointly own the network instead). On March 6, 2006, the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced an agreement to affiliate 17 of its stations with MyNetworkTV (consisting mostly of stations that were set to lose their WB affiliations when The CW launched, as well as a few that were affiliated with UPN or operated as independent stations).
This occurred despite the widespread presumption that affiliations with The CW, which at that point was in the process of signing affiliates in most markets, would be more valuable; however, Sinclair implied that MyNetworkTV was more financially attractive for the company (of the Sinclair stations that initially affiliated with MyNetworkTV, San Antonio affiliate KMYS has since disaffiliated from the service; its August 30, 2010 affiliation swap with Fredericksburg-based CW affiliate KCWX was the first and so far only known affiliation switch between same-market affiliates of the two nutlets since their formation in 2006).
One day later on March 7, Raycom Media announced that its WB and UPN stations (including WUAB/Cleveland, Ohio, KFVE/Honolulu, Hawaii and WBXH-CA/Baton Rouge, Louisiana) would also become charter affiliates of MyNetworkTV. One of the stations named in a list of newly signed MyNetworkTV affiliates that Fox Entertainment Group released on April 26, 2006, was KNVA in Austin, Texas, which The CW had also added to its own list of confirmed affiliates one week prior.
On May 1, 2006, another previously-confirmed CW affiliate, KWKB in Iowa City, Iowa, signed on as a MyNetworkTV charter affiliate. Until October 2009, these two stations were the only ones to be aligned with both new networks (KNVA has since become an exclusive CW affiliate as parent station KXAN-TV converted its semi-satellite KBVO into a standalone MyNetworkTV affiliate); KNVA branded its MyNetworkTV lineup under the banner “MyNetworkTV on The CW Austin,” while KWKB’s website features station logos labeled as both “KWKB The CW” and “My KWKB”.
In May, WAWB in Huntsville, Alabama officially announced that it would become a MyNetworkTV affiliate, and subsequently changed its call letters to WAMY. On July 12, 2006, the network announced affiliation agreements with seven additional stations (including WBFS-TV/Miami, KTVD/Denver, WUPL/New Orleans and WAWS/Jacksonville, Florida (WAWS, along with WSYX/Columbus, Ohio and WHP-TV/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania carry MyNetworkTV on digital subchannels).
The deal with CBS Television Stations to have MyNetworkTV affiliate with stations that were left out of The CW’s affiliation deals with the group came as a surprise in the broadcasting industry, especially after the icy reception between CBS and News Corporation (which became 21st Century Fox through the July 2013 spin-off of the company’s publishing unit and Australian television properties) that began after both it and The CW came into the picture, as they refused to allow WBFS, WUPL and Boston’s WSBK-TV to affiliate with MyNetworkTV as a response to pulling UPN branding from that network’s Fox-owned stations.
In August 2006, MyNetworkTV filled in its remaining gaps within the top 100 television markets. On August 11, the network announced affiliations with WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island (as a secondary affiliate) and WNGT-LP in Toledo, Ohio. Additionally, on August 22, MyNetworkTV added KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and WRGT-TV in Dayton, Ohio (the latter of which would carry the network on a digital subchannel) to the affiliate list on its website; also that month, WZMY in Derry, New Hampshire was announced as the network’s Boston area affiliate (WBIN the former WZMY disaffiliated with MyNetworkTV in September 2011, at which time WSBK (which had shunned MyNetworkTV at its formation in 2006) took over the MyNetworkTV affiliation in Boston; KAUT became an independent station in September 2012, with MyNetworkTV moving to former independent KSBI).
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