UPN Chances ImprovingBy Christian
August 25, 2000 - 9:51 PM
- Cynthia Littleton at the Hollywood Reporter has written a new report on the future of 'Voyager' home network UPN, indicating that the network's existence might be secured for at least one more season. UPN's future was suddenly endangered several weeks ago, after Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought Chris-Craft Industries, owner of many key UPN affiliates, which were expected to now drop their UPN affiliation in early January.
However, sources of the Hollywood Reporter indicated that News Corp. is now considering sticking with UPN, at least for the short term. The main reason for this is that, while News Corp., through FOX, does have a large amount of entertainment, news and sports programs, it would be difficult to assembling a completely new line-up for the Chris-Craft staions before January. In addition, such a sudden shift would likely cause viewership, and because of this also advertising sales, to go sharply down.
Not only News Corp. would benefit from such a deal with UPN, providing it cheaply and easily with primetime programming, but also Viacom itself. UPN is contractually obligated to notify its other affiliates by the 15th of October if the network were to close down early next year, so a decision on the network's future needs to be made before that date. Closing UPN would also leave 19 Viacom-owned major-market affiliates without any programming. Finally, UPN's ratings have finally been increasing over the past season, and after investing nearly $400 million in it Viacom might not want to pull out at this moment. The media company does seem committed to UPN, as a $7 million - $8 million advertising campaign for the new fall lineup is proceeding as planned.
As reported earlier, Murdoch and News Corp. are expected to try to obtain an ownership stake in UPN, giving it an extra channel to distribute its programming, which would fit in with the company's current strategy.
Leaving UPN's long-term future aside, this is any case good news for Voyager fans in markets such as Los Angeles and New York, which previously seemed to be in risk of not being able to see Voyager's final season. In addition, this of course again increases the chances of Series V also ending up on UPN.
- Voyager isn't the only show viewers will be able to see on UPN next year, as yesterday was also the official presentation of the Extreme Football League (XFL), launched by the WWF and NBC. Starting in February, UPN will be showing one night game a week of this new high-adrenaline football league, featuring teams such as the New York-New Jersey Hitmen, the Chicago Enforcers and the Memphis Maniax. Read all about it here.
- And finally, it's being reported that UPN will in fact be televising The Source Hip-Hop Awards held a few days ago, despite the actual ceremony being broken up halfway through by police officers.