Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MyNetworkTV to air "WWE SmackDown"

By Georg Szalai
2 hours, 25 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) -
News Corp.'s MyNetworkTV
will be the new home of World Wrestling Entertainment's "WWE
SmackDown" starting in the fall after the sports entertainment
powerhouse's show ends its run on the CW Network.

Industry observers had expected a deal with MyNet, but WWE
management said as recently as two weeks ago that various
networks were in the running. The two parties made things
official Tuesday.

"This is a big, bold franchise with huge awareness in the
marketplace," MyNet president Greg Meidel said, noting that the
deal came together quickly. "The brand is recognized by both
men and women (in the key demographics of) 18-34 and 18-49, so
it will give us a huge locomotive to drive our schedule and
build it out at a much faster rate."

Meidel said "SmackDown" will remain a two-hour program,
airing on Thursday or Friday night. That means the series will
displace one of the network's two movie nights, which could
move to Saturday.

"SmackDown" has for nine years been one of the most popular
programs among males on broadcast TV and one of the top 10
English-language primetime programs among Latino households.

Said WWE chairman Vince McMahon, "We have an unmatched
record of delivering ratings success to each and every network
partner we've worked with in our long and storied history."

Meidel noted that the series previously aired on several
News Corp.-owned stations when they were UPN affiliates, before
that network merged with WB Network to form the CW in 2006.

"We have a real history of selling and monetizing
'SmackDown,"' Meidel said. "This was driven by our interest not
only as a network but also as a stations owner."

MyNet also is no stranger to fight-themed programming. It
had a relationship with the International Fight League for a
two-hour block featuring mixed martial arts programming, which
debuted in March but disappeared from the schedule several
weeks ago. Meidel said the IFL programming had a more narrow
audience appeal than "SmackDown."

The "SmackDown" news follows on the heels of MyNet's
13-episode order for its first sitcom, the Flavor Flav starrer
"Under One Roof." Meidel said he is looking at a "very
aggressive development slate for fall" that could include more
scripted projects.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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