Kentucky Derby: At The Gate

Aug 14, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Louisville, Ky., the nation’s 50th-largest market, could very well be Anytown, USA, at least when it comes to the way the local launches of The CW and MyNetworkTV networks are playing out.

As was the case for stations in many cities across the country, Louisville’s UPN and WB affiliates found themselves in the lurch in January. Both stations faced the prospect of going into the fall with no network affiliation.

The UPN affiliate, WFTE-TV (now WMYO-TV), and the WB station, WBKI-TV, both vied to align with The CW after the network’s co-owners, Warner Bros. and CBS Corp., announced The CW would be created by merging UPN and The WB.

WBKI wound up with the affiliation. WMYO, which was not willing to go along with The CW’s demand to be paid for programming, has since signed on with MyNetworkTV, which Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television established as an answer to The CW.

Now, like many MyNetworkTV affiliates, WMYO faces the task of drawing viewers with little familiarity with its telenovela format of daily prime-time soaps.

The CW’s programming, on the other hand, is going to look familiar to Louisville audiences, since much of it was carried by The WB or UPN.

Monica Lawton, president of media planning and buying firm Lawton Media Services, said it is impossible to predict performance for these stations and networks at this point. But MyNetworkTV’s reliance on novelas may be questionable, given this market. In addition to a small Hispanic population, Louisville is a very competitive market, Ms. Lawton said.

“It’s just real challenging to be the underdog in this market,” Ms. Lawton said. “There are more [evenly matched] options to buy in Louisville than in other markets.”

The executives leading the transitions at WMYO and WBKI agreed to take TelevisionWeek National Editor Michele Greppi behind the scenes of their efforts this summer to prepare for the stations’ launches. Their stories follow.

WMYO-TV: Challenge is to Sell Audience on Novelas

WBKI-TV: Familiar Programs, Potential Confusion