Kids’ WB Loses Weekdays, Gains Hour on Weekends
[via press release]
THE WB NETWORK WILL PROGRAM ITS MONDAY-FRIDAY 3:00-5:00 PM BLOCK WITH BRANDED GENERAL ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMMING BEGINNING JANUARY 2006
NEW WEEKDAY GENERAL ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMMING WILL APPEAL TO THE NETWORK’S YOUNG ADULT SENSIBILITY AND CREATE A MUCH LARGER AFTERNOON AUDIENCE FOR THE WB AFFILIATES
KIDS’ WB!, THE HIGHEST RATED CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING NETWORK ON BROADCAST TELEVISION, WILL EXPAND FROM 4 TO 5 HOURS ON SATURDAY MORNINGS – — PRIMETIME FOR KIDS’ PROGRAMMING
Burbank, CA May 31, 2005
The WB Television Network will begin to program its affiliate group of over 200 television stations with a branded general entertainment programming block Monday through Friday from 3-5 p.m., beginning January 2006, it was announced today by Garth Ancier, Chairman of The WB.
Simultaneous to this move, Kids’ WB!, which has occupied the 3-5 p.m. time slot since the network’s launch a decade ago, will expand its Saturday morning lineup, considered primetime for kids’ programming, from four to five hours (7 a.m.-12 p.m.). The WB will be working extra hard with Cartoon Network, which sells ad time for Kids’ WB!, to make sure that advertisers’ needs will be fully met with the expanded inventory in the highly rated Saturday morning block.
“This is a win-win strategic move initiated in response to the changing television environment. Our affiliates have explained to us their challenges in the Monday through Friday kids’ business. We have had ongoing conversations exploring different approaches to the stations’ and network’s needs. We are thrilled with the results which are expressed in the agreement we have announced today,” said Ancier. “This move will significantly increase ratings and revenue for both our station partners and the network. It will create a two-hour-a-day branded block that will provide strong lead-ins for our stations’ early fringe and access blocks, which should in turn have a positive effect on primetime ratings. At the same time we add one hour to Kids’ WB! on Saturday mornings, fortifying our number one position on weekends.”
The WB-branded 3-5 p.m. weekday block will consist of off-network series initially, with an eye to also develop first-run strips down the line. This move immediately makes The WB a significant buyer of off-network programming, which will be welcomed by program suppliers and producers.
“We have already had informal discussions with a number of studios and plan on meeting with all of them in the coming days as we put together our first schedule,” continued Ancier. “The good news is that there are a number of very interesting program choices for our launch in January and even more choices beginning in September 2006. We plan to announce our first schedule shortly.”
Kids’ WB! continues to be an enormous success in the kids’ business winning 15 consecutive Saturday morning sweeps races among broadcast networks including this May 2005. Driving this success are a group of powerful kids’ franchises, including the blockbuster Pokemon, white-hot Yu-Gi-Oh! and recent Emmy winners from Warner Bros. Animation The Batman and Xiaolin Showdown.
The WB got into kids’ programming a decade ago to develop a strong and loyal following of kids who would then become the primetime viewers of the future. The idea was to differentiate The WB stations in the marketplace and have kids think of The WB/Kids’ WB! as their network.
Since that time, the awareness of The WB has grown significantly. In addition, cable networks such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel have changed the dynamics in the kids’ business by programming virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fulfilling, to a great extent, the demand for kids’ programming in the afternoons for viewers and advertisers.
Additionally, a contributing factor in the decision was the recent Rulemaking by the Federal Communications Commission which mandates that promotional matter be counted as commercial time under the prevailing commercial cap. This Rulemaking created regulatory uncertainty concerning the wisdom of continuing with the Monday through Friday block.