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TrekToday - Analysts Examine UPN's Ratings Woes

Analysts Examine UPN's Ratings Woes

By Caillan
December 3, 2002 - 8:38 AM

It's no secret that UPN has taken a ratings hit this season, with flagship shows Enterprise and Buffy The Vampire Slayer shouldering much of the blame.

TV Guide reported that while Joss Whedon's vampire series is down 25% from last year, Enterprise's ratings are 42% lower than its debut season. "Enterprise started out strong," Initiative Media senior vice-president Stacey Lynn Koerner told the magazine. "But this season it seems lost in space."

UPN entertainment president Dawn Ostroff wants to stop the downward spiral. "We've been working on the show. It's getting sexier. We're exploring relationships more and pushing the dramatic elements of the show. You'll see a lot more sides to the characters."

With Buffy's seventh season possibly its last, UPN will be left with a hole in its Tuesday night programming if the series comes to an end or no spin-off series materialises. The network has been unable to capitalise on the show's built-in audience, with lead-out series such as As If, The Random Years and Haunted failing in the ratings.

"I fault [UPN] for not developing enough original programming," said Roy Rothstein, vice president of Zenith Media. "It's hard to know what UPN is about." This contrasts strongly with Ostroff's declaration in May this year that UPN has "distinct shows and a clear direction for the future" (story).

The network was launched on the back of the Star Trek franchise with Voyager's debut in 1995. Despite consistent audiences for its Monday night comedy line-up and WWE Smackdown, Star Trek's ratings have declined (although there was a boost from Enterprise's first season) and other shows, such as Special Unit 2, failed to find an audience. Nevertheless, Ostroff is optimistic about the network's future. "Our growth will be an evolution, not a revolution."

The original article can be found here at TV Guide.

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