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WHY MYNETWORKTV FOLDING MAY NOT BE CATASTROPHIC TO SMACKDOWN'S FUTURE

By Dave Scherer on 2009-02-17 11:53:07

We reported a month or so ago that part of the reason that WWE is starting a new first-run show on WGN America is due to the fact that they are hedging their bet in case there were problems concerning their deal with MyNetworkTV.  Then last week, MNTV announced that other than Smackdown, they are abandoning all original programming and going to a schedule of airing repeat programs from other networks and movies.  While their management and some industry observers say that this is a good cost cutting move for them, others wonder if it's the beginning of the end for the network.  It's fair to say that things aren't going strongly for MNTV so its future has become a consideration for WWE.

If MNTV fails or WWE doesn't renew their deal when it expires, the backup plan is to move the show over to WGN, which was the only other serious suitor for Smackdown after The CW decided not to negotiate for its rights.  The major negative to airing on WGN, and what ultimately led WWE to taking MNTV's offer, is the channel's market penetration.  WGN is not on in major parts of the country, such as New York, the nation's largest TV audience.

If MNTV were to go under however, that very well could not be an issue as the Tribune Company, which parent of WGN, also owns a number of stations throughout the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas and Washington DC.  While some of them are CW affiliates, since that network doesn't program on Saturday nights, they could easily run Smackdown on their stations then, giving WWE the penetration that it needs for the broadcast.  In talking to WWE sources, I have learned that were Smackdown to jump to WGN, the company would indeed look to get slots on the company's stations in markets where WGN isn't carried by the local cable companies, ensuring a larger potential audience for the show.

Thanks to Jay Landry for his help with this story.

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