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Wrestling down but not out; ‘Eve’ hot

UPN

WHAT WORKED: Net’s comedies on Monday, bolstered by the addition of “Eve” in the 8:30 slot, are working very well, averaging an 8 share in women 18-34 and on par with its solid year-ago perf on the night.

“The African-American viewers they draw on Monday and now on Tuesday is really their strength right now,” says Brad Adgate of Horizon Media. “It’s not surprising that they’re trying to spread it around the schedule.”

Former Monday hit “One on One” has successfully been employed to kick off a night of comedy on Tuesday, providing a nice lead-in for rookie laffer “All of Us” — produced by and based on the lives of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith — a strong performer at 8:30.

With these comedies taking over for the departed “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” net is much stronger in the night’s leadoff hour than many would have expected, creating a foundation for the future.

WHAT DIDN’T: Third-year drama “Enterprise” continues to look shaky (down nearly 25% year-to-year), and lead-out Wednesday entry “Jake 2.0” has also been disappointing as the net finds it tough to bring young men to the set.

“Maybe the whole ‘Star Trek’ franchise is starting to wear thin,” says Adgate. UPN’s overall averages are also being weighed down by Thursday wrestling series “WWE Smackdown,” whose audience has declined significantly over the past two years and is down nearly 20% more this season in adults 18-34. (It has, however, shown signs of a recovery in recent weeks.) And at least the net (in conjunction with the CBS ad sales department) is now in charge of selling the ad inventory during the two-hour program.

Tuesday at 9 has also been a problem for the net, with new comedy “The Mullets” quickly bombing and the domestic laffer “Rock Me Baby” doing so-so numbers. Even when “Buffy” was doing well on the night, this hour was something of a black hole.

WHAT’S AHEAD: UPN’s midseason entries include the 10-episode reality skein “America’s Next Top Model” and the CGI-animated “Game Over,” a family comedy inspired by a popular videogame.

“This is a new way for a broadcaster to try to go after elusive males,” Adgate says, “and it’s worth a try.”

Series programming on Friday remains a possibility, but the net would like to be a little more settled on its other nights first; it currently airs C-level movies on Friday (“Posse,” “Ready to Rumble”) and is running a distant sixth on the night. UPN has also discussed opening up a sixth night of programming (probably Sunday), although that too remains on the back burner.

Overall, the No. 6 broadcaster must be pleased that rival net the WB has declined as much, if not more, than UPN in key categories this season — meaning the Frog’s advantage has been shaved.

Another reason for optimism going forward is that the net has shown, with John Ridley and Sofia Coppola’s drama “Platinum” and Carsey-Werner’s “Game One,” that it can attract quality producers and writers to UPN.

Top 3 Shows:
WWE Smackdown – 2.1
Girlfriends – 1.9
Eve – 1.8

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