WB moves ‘Buffy’ to slay Tuesday

The WB netlet in mid-January is planning to move its Monday mini-hit “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to lead off Tuesdays, its new fourth night of programming, which will also feature the highly anticipated coming-of-age drama “Dawson’s Creek.”

The expansion to a fourth night will take place Jan. 20, in the middle of a brief quiet period before the February sweeps storm. Sources at the WB confirmed the move, and while the network had no official comment, WB series producers and affiliates have been briefed on the scheduling changes.

Moving into “Buffy’s” old Mon-day 9 p.m. slot after “Seventh Heaven” is Paramount’s slick action drama “Three,” which will probably launch a week later, on Jan. 26. “Three” is about three criminals who go to work for the government to avoid prison terms.

On Tuesday night, “Buffy” at 8 p.m. will face NBC’s “Mad About You,” ABC’s “Soul Man” UPN’s “Moesha” and CBS’ “JAG.” Colum-bia TriStar’s “Dawson’s Creek,” executive produced by Kevin William-son, will launch in the even tougher 9 p.m. timeslot against ABC’s “Home Improvement” and NBC’s “Frasier.”

But the WB feels the “Buffy”-“Dawson’s Creek” combo will make for a strong, compatible lineup, with particular appeal to young women. The WB is also counter-programming the many comedies on other networks Tuesday night. CBS is the only other web to air dramas, and the two net-works have very little audience over-lap.

The new Monday drama “Three” is launching after the football season is over. The WB is hoping to pick up some men on a night where most other webs target women.

The WB is expanding to a fourth night at a good time for the netlet. Although its ratings are still very low, the WB is the only network to show year-to-year growth so far this season, and the netlet’s station lineup will receive a big boost Jan. 16 after the Sinclair stations defect from UPN to the WB. The new Tuesday night is launching just days later.

UPN, meanwhile, is delaying its expansion to a fourth night of pro-gramming, probably until next fall. Originally, UPN planned to launch a sci-fi movie night midseason, but the new UPN regime is re-evaluating that strategy.

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