Net turns to drama to grow femme aud
NEW YORK — High on chick power, UPN will likely expand from five nights of programming to six next year, CBS prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves said Thursday.
UPN, which Moonves oversees, is coming off a strong season with its hit reality show “America’s Next Top Model,” which gave the tiny net an overnight boost in female viewers while traditional chick net the WB saw young women drop off.
Moonves said the expansion to a six-day sked was a “good possibility,” but he didn’t say whether it would be Saturday — the lowest TV viewing night — or Sunday. UPN programs 10 hours per week in primetime.
His comments came following UPN’s upfront sesh at the Madison Square Garden Theater in Gotham, where media buyers and advertisers were shown clips of UPN’s three new fall shows: the comedy “Second Time Around” and dramas “Kevin Hill” and “Veronica Mars.”
“We’ve turned an important goal here,” Moonves said as he opened the Madison Avenue presentation. “Young women are leaving the WB in droves.”
During the presentation, UPN Entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff said the net would capitalize on the success of “Top Model” and continue to target young female viewers. She said she’s also determined to woo top talent, pointing to Taye Diggs, who stars in “Kevin Hill,” about a Casanova lawyer who suddenly finds himself taking care of his orphaned baby niece.
Drama will air at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, a timeslot historically reserved for action and sci-fi skeins. Ostroff said the night is a “key battleground” and that the decision to sked “Hill” after “Top Model” ensures that young women will stick around through 10 p.m.
“Audience flow — that’s what it is all about,” Ostroff told media buyers. “Never before has UPN looked so hot on Wednesday nights.”
UPN is cutting back on comedy and going for drama to grow its female aud Tuesday night, where it has skedded “Veronica Mars” at 9 p.m., following returning laffer “All of Us” at 8 and “Eve” at 8:30. “Mars,” a nighttime soap about a poor girl living in a wealthy California town, bears shades of Fox’s returning hit “The OC.”
The biggest play for UPN was to move “Top Model” from Tuesday to Wednesday on the fall sked. Ostroff said the net has ordered two installments of the reality show, or 26 original episodes. Also, UPN has decided to repeat the reality show Fridays at 8 p.m., with additional original footage.
Ostroff said the untitled reality project with hip-hop star Missy Elliott will serve as a bridge between the two cycles of “Model.”
UPN is moving “Enterprise” from Wednesday at 8 p.m. to Friday at 9. Ostroff assured reporters that fans would follow the show, and reminded them that sci-fi series “The X-Files” flourished in the Friday 9 p.m. timeslot.
“Enterprise” and “WWE Smackdown,” which airs 8-10 p.m. on Thursday, are the last vestiges of testosterone-driven programming on UPN.
UPN said it is continuing to use “WWE” as a counterprogramming measure on Thursday, the most competitive night in TV.
Like its big brother CBS, UPN received high marks for having a focused upfront presentation, which opened with a two-song performance by recording artist Usher.
Ostroff announced that Usher would perform on this fall’s second annual Vibe Awards, to be broadcast on UPN.