In Depth

CW Takes Back Its Sunday Nights, Sets ‘Jericho’ Reruns

The CW has decided to take back control of its Sunday night lineup from independent studio Media Rights Capital.

Starting Nov. 30, the network will replace its super low-rated MRC shows with a quirky combination of repeats and a movie package. Among the series getting windows on CW’s new Sunday schedule: The CBS cult favorite “Jericho” and Warner Bros. Television’s “The Drew Carey Show.”

Pre-prime-time hours will feature comedies from 5 to 7 p.m. “Jericho” will air at 7 p.m., with the movies running from 8-10 p.m.

CW Chief Operating Officer John Maatta announced the shakeup in a letter to affiliates sent today. Mr. Maatta was blunt in his assessment of the Sunday schedule, saying that the “MRC shows are simply not working.”

MRC’s deal with the CW gave the network the right to make changes after 13 weeks, but apparently both sides agreed it was in their respective best interest to pull the plug even sooner.

While the MRC series—which included retro-sounding titles such as “Valentine” and “Easy Money”—generated some decent reviews, ratings were beyond abysmal, sometimes coming close to barely registering on Nielsen’s meters.

The full text of Mr. Maatta’s letter follows:


November 20, 2008

Dear Affiliate:

We are now two and a half months into our new season and some terrific progress has been made.

Our strategy this year was to focus on Monday-Friday, particularly the early part of the week. Clearly that strategy has worked, as we are up in our key demographic of women 18-34 by 150% Monday and 41% on Tuesday. “Top Model” continues to shine Wednesdays, winning its time period on a regular basis, while “Smallville” and “Supernatural” continue to keep us in the game on Thursday versus tough competition. Additionally, we have improved our 18-49 demos by 78% Monday and 8% Monday-Thursday.

In the process, we are building a distinct and powerful brand of young-female skewing programming with new shows like “Gossip Girl” and “90210” complementing veteran hits “One Tree Hill” and “Top Model.”

As you know, to focus our efforts on the earlier part of the week, we entered into a time buy agreement with Media Rights Capital to program Sunday night. While this move has clearly paid dividends for the overall schedule, the results on Sunday night have been below expectations. The MRC shows are simply not working.

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.

The programs from Media Rights Capital will have their final airing this Sunday, November 23, 2008. Effective November 30, 2008, The CW will resume programming Sunday nights.

Our plan is to program Sunday with distinctive, first-rate programming that can quickly stabilize the night. We will work with you to promote and market this new night, with a lineup that will include quality scripted series and contemporary theatrical titles. Here is the lineup:

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.: EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS/THE GAME
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.: THE DREW CAREY SHOW
7:00 – 8:00 p.m.: JERICHO
8:00 – 10:00 p.m.: MOVIE

Our Affiliate Relations and Affiliate Marketing teams will be in immediate touch with your personnel regarding this important schedule change.

We will continue to work diligently and find success via the best means possible and move quickly to shore up troubled timeslots. We will continue to invest in new programming that will evolve into valued primetime assets for you, our affiliates, and our parent companies, CBS and Warner Bros.

We appreciate the partnership we have with you, our affiliates, and we will continue to work closely to take our success to the next level.

Sincerely,

John D. Maatta