MyNetworkTV challenges status quo

Unlike rivals, upstart heavily revamps schedule

Launched in 2006 after the the WB and UPN nets morphed into the CW, Fox’s MyNetworkTV represents a sort of little-network-that-could exception to the stagnant 2007-08 TV season.

Net prexy Greg Meidel has room to talk up victories from last year, albeit in small numbers — the operation, which serves affiliates a simple menu of roughly a dozen shows and rerun movies, increased viewers by 33%. That still puts them just over a million on average, though MyNetwork did become the 10th-ranked net among viewers 18-49.

The net appears poised to continue modest growth via a fall lineup that welcomes WWE “SmackDown” — wrestled from the CW — on Friday nights; “The Tony Rock Project,” starring Chris Rock’s comedian bro; and new episodes of “Magic’s Secrets Revealed.” “Celebrity Expose,” a net staple geared to draw women, returns; so does “Jail,” from the same team behind “Cops.”

“We expect we’ll do a lot better on Friday nights,” Meidel says. ” ‘SmackDown’ is a mirror image of who really watches our network. This isn’t like putting square pegs in round holes.”

Meidel says his basic goal is to air broad, crowdpleasing programming and continue ratings growth.

“We have a long way to go,” Meidel explains. “(But) we have to look at how we do in our universe. I’m not looking at other networks — I’m looking at our performance.”