WB Television Network

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(Redirected from Warner Brothers Network)

The WB Television Network, casually referred to as The WB, is a television network in the United States, founded as a joint venture between the Warner Bros. film studio and Tribune Company on January 11,1995. The network is typically referred to as The WB or sometimes The Frog (referring to the network's mascot, the animated character Michigan J. Frog who was introduced in the 1955 animated short, One Froggy Evening).



Much like its competitor UPN, the WB was a reaction to the success of the upstart Fox Network and first-run syndicated programming during the late 1980s and early 1990s such as Baywatch. WB's first programs were sitcoms and other cheaply produced fare, mostly targeted at an ethnic audience. Of the four original series to debut on the WB's launch season, only 7th Heaven was renewed beyond the first year. The WB also added the "Kids' WB" programming block, which mixed Warners' biggest hit shows (Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and later Batman: The Animated Series, all of which originated either on Fox, Fox Kids or in syndication) with new productions and original shows.

After the Turner-Time Warner merger in 1996, Kids' WB formed an alliance with Cartoon Network, and over time, they have shared more and more programming.

A few years after its launch, The WB intentionally shifted its programming to capture what it perceived to be a heavily fragmented market by marketing to the under-courted teen market. While The Fox Network was intentionally targetting older audiences with shows like Ally McBeal, The WB's breakout hits during the late 1990s centered around attractive highschoolers with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek in prime time. Just three years after their launch, they were ranked #1 among teenage audiences. Following the success of those shows, the network went on to produce similarly the similarly positioned Felicity and Charmed.

Around the same time, The WB also launched the American version of Pokémon in the Kids' WB blocks, which they acquired from syndication (TV Tokyo) in 1998 and became a widespread pop-culture phenomenon. WB also got the English-language version of the second series Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, titled Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters in Japan.

It is sold to TV markets below the number 100 in viewership as determined by Nielsen in a packaged format, with a master schedule and no local advertisements.

It was estimated in 2003 that the WB was viewable by 84.66% of all households, reaching 90,282,480 houses in the United States. The WB was carried by 177 VHF and UHF stations in the U.S., counting both owned-and-operated and affiliated stations (the owned and operated stations are not actually operated by Warner Bros. or Time Warner; instead, Tribune owns and operates these stations, thus their stake in the network).

Some WB stations also decide to pass along the Kids' WB block to another station in their market so they can air general entertainment programming in the weekday afternoon and Saturday slots. WGN-TV in Chicago, for example, has WCIU-TV Channel 26, which is an independent station, air Kids' WB while Channel 9 airs sitcoms in place of the shows.

Changes to Kids' WB

As of May 31, 2005, the network announced that starting in January 2006, the weekday Monday-Friday Kids' WB block will be discontinued, which will be replaced in the meantime by the network with their own package of off-network reruns, probably sitcoms or teen dramas, though the network says that eventually new live-action programming meant for this 3pm-5pm slot will be created. However, the network will also add an extra hour of programming to Saturday mornings to make up for this.

When Kids' WB's weekday lineup ends, this will make WB the last broadcast network to program for children in the afternoons, and pretty much cedes that cable networks targeting children, like Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Kids' WB's sister network Cartoon Network, and other media like the Internet and DVD have taken most of the kid's audience for programming before and after school away from the broadcast networks and the formerly independent stations that eventually joined either UPN or WB.

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