Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hot TV War: The WB vs. UPN

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hot TV War: The WB vs. UPN

Article excerpt

PASADENA, Calif. -- You may not know it as you ponder the fate of Seinfeld or Home Improvement, but there's a war going on in the TV business and it has nothing to do with the Big Three networks and has little do with Fox, the last fledgling network to turn -- in a decade -- into a major player.

No, this has to do with who will be the fifth network. As TV expands and the dial gets bigger and the digital domain opens the doors, this is where the real battle is waged. This is the future -- The WB vs. UPN.

You can laugh. Both networks are in their infancy, but so was ABC at one point, then Fox and even HBO. All powerhouses now. In the industry, the war between the fifth and sixth networks is big news - - because it means more shows, more stars, more viewers and, ultimately, more money. But what does it mean to you? Easy. It means that while NBC or Fox may be your favorite network now, you -- and especially your kids -- will be watching a different channel in the future. The WB. Never has the division between two networks been more clear. The WB -- the network with a frog as its mascot -- came bouncing into the Television Critics Association winter press tour as swaggering and sneering as a 16-year-old kid who just won a fistfight at school and got his driver's license. UPN, on the other hand, came here with a bloody nose and a fistful of hollow threats. The WB is unleashing four midseason shows, including the finest new show of the season, Invasion America. Meanwhile, UPN couldn't muster any new programming and announced that it's bringing back The Love Boat. More importantly, on Friday, The WB wrestled away five UPN stations in fairly major markets -- including Oklahoma City -- upping its potential viewers by another 4 million. That may be a blurb on the business page, but it's a sea change in the TV industry. Right now, The WB has television's best cult hit in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a fixture on many critics' Top 10 lists). The network is moving Buffy to Tuesday night and pairing it with Dawson's Creek. That's a powerful combination that could have a bigger impact if NBC moves Frasier to Thursday nights after Seinfeld leaves and Home Improvement gets retired. …

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