WHAT WORKED: UPN entered the fall with some of the best reviews of any network.
Critics couldn’t get enough of Taye Diggs starrer “Kevin Hill,” and were also intrigued by the Kristen Bell vehicle “Veronica Mars.”
With all that buzz, both shows nevertheless got off to slow starts. Still, the dramas exhibited growth for UPN over the first few weeks of the season, enough that the net picked up a full year of both shows.
“Kevin Hill” dramatically improved UPN’s Wednesday 9 p.m. performance, while “Veronica Mars” boosted young female marks for the net. Both shows have helped change UPN’s image both with viewers and with the creative community.
But the real story, of course, came from the continued strength of reality franchise “America’s Next Top Model.”
The show, which in its third cycle crowned 19-year-old Eva Pigford as the modeling world’s next big thing, posted its top-rated finale to date on Dec. 15, averaging a 3.5 rating among adults 18-34 (good enough to win the hour, tied with a repeat of ABC’s “Lost”).
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UPN also drew its best Wednesday of the season (4.8 million) thanks to the show.
WHAT DIDN’T: The results wound up being more mixed than expected for UPN this fall. The net averaged 3.7 million viewers during November sweeps, down 6% from the previous November.
Hitting the net hardest were some surprising drops in viewership on UPN’s solid Monday night laffer slate. UPN has asked Nielsen to investigate the matter, as African-American viewership numbers have shown some unusual fluctuations this season.
“Star Trek: Enterprise,” meanwhile, continues to struggle, while frosh laffer “Second Time Around” wasn’t given a full season pickup.
WHAT’S AHEAD: For midseason, UPN first offered up the reality competish “The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott,” which has been airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. since Jan. 5. Arnold Shapiro, Allison Grodner, Mona Scott, Jay Blumenfield and Anthony Marsh exec produce for Shapiro-Grodner Prods. and Monami Inc.
Net also has two comedies in the works: “The Bad Girl’s Guide,” based on Cameron Tuttle’s book franchise of the same name (and starring Jenny McCarthy); and the “One on One” spinoff “Cuts,” featuring Marques Houston and Shannon Elizabeth as the mismatched operators of a Baltimore barbershop.
“Cuts” comes from Paramount Network TV and Daddy’s Girl Prods.; Eunetta Boone, Bennie Richburg, Robert Greenblatt and David Janollari exec produced the pilot. “Bad Girl’s Guide” comes from Flame Entertainment and Paramount; Tony Krantz exec produces, along with Robin Schiff.
Then, of course, there’s the fourth edition of “Top Model,” which returns in March and fills out the rest of the net’s season.