The WB Television Network
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)|
|Type||Online network (2008–present)
Defunct broadcast television network (1995–2006)
|Founded||by Jamie Kellner|
|Slogan||It's TV online.|
|Key people||Susanne Daniels,
|Launch date||January 11, 1995
April 28, 2008 (online)
|Dissolved||September 17, 2006(television)|
|Replaced by||The CW Television Network (terrestrial broadcasting)|
The WB Television Network (commonly shortened to The WB) is a former broadcast television network and present-day internet television network in the United States, that in its original television incarnation was launched on January 11, 1995 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. and Tribune Broadcasting. On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced plans to shut down the network and launch The CW Television Network later that same year. The WB Television Network shut down on September 17, 2006, and merged with UPN (which had shut down two days earlier) to form The CW.
As a television network, it aired programs targeting mostly teenagers and young adults, with the exception of its Saturday morning line-up of shows called Kids' WB, which was geared towards children. It was re-launched as an online network on April 28, 2008 by Warner Bros. The new website allows users to watch shows of the former TV network, as well as shows formerly hosted on the now-defunct In2TV service. The website can only be accessed within the United States.23
Much like its competitor UPN, The WB Television Network was created as a reaction primarily to new FCC deregulation of media ownership rules that repealed the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules, and partly to the success of the upstart Fox and first-run syndicated programming during the late 1980s and early 1990s such as Baywatch, Star Trek: The Next Generation and War of the Worlds, as well as the erosion in ratings suffered by independent television stations due to the growth of cable television and movie rentals. The network can also trace its beginnings to the Prime Time Entertainment Network, a joint venture between Warner Bros. and the Chris-Craft Industries group of stations.
On November 2, 1993, the Warner Bros. Entertainment division of Time Warner announced the formation of The WB Television Network, with the Tribune Company holding a minority interest; as such, Tribune Broadcasting signed agreements to affiliate its then-seven television stations – all of which were independent stations, and included the television group's flagship station WGN-TV in Chicago, as well as WPIX in New York City and KTLA in Los Angeles – with the network (only five of these stations would join The WB at launch, as Tribune's independent stations in New Orleans and Atlanta that had originally been tapped to become WB charter stations respectively joined ABC and CBS as a result of Fox's affiliation deals with the original affiliates of those networks); this effectively made the Tribune stations de facto owned-and-operated stations of The WB through the company's ownership stake in the network. In order to give the network time to fill gaps in markets where the network was unable to find an affiliate at launch, The WB later announced on December 3, 1993 that WGN-TV's superstation feed would provide additional national distribution for the network as a cable-only affiliate.4
The WB originally was slated to launch with two nights of primetime programming in the first year, with two additional nights of primetime, a late primetime half-hour strip, 4½ hours of weekday daytime programming and a four-hour Saturday morning children's lineup in the second year; by the third year, a fifth night of primetime and 1½ hours of weekday programming outside of primetime would have been added, followed by an additional hour of primetime and 1½ hours on weekday afternoons by year four, and a seventh night of primetime in the fifth year of operation.5 However, the plan was scaled back dramatically, particularly as only one night of primetime programming debuted as the network launched; and by September 1995, The WB added only one additional night (Sundays), plus a three-hour Saturday morning and one-hour weekday morning children's block.6
Warner Bros. Entertainment appointed many former Fox network executives to run the network, including the network's original chief executive Jamie Kellner, who served as president of Fox from 1986 to 1993; and president of programming Garth Ancier, who was the programming chief of Fox from 1986 to 1989.
The WB Television Network began its life on January 11, 1995, with the premiere of The Wayans Bros. as its first program. The classic Warner Bros. cartoon character Michigan J. Frog appeared on-air as the network's official mascot, and would remain in the network's branding in one form or another until 2005. The WB's schedule was similar to Fox's when it launched, as it started with one night a week of programming (essentially rendering its affiliates as largely being independent stations initially) and then gradually added additional nights of programming over the course of several seasons: the network started with a two-hour Wednesday night lineup of sitcoms, airing from 8–10 p.m. ET. The network's first programs were mostly sitcoms targeted at an ethnically black audience (though several series during the network's first five years were also targeted at families).
Even though four of the five shows shown in the netlet's first nine months – The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After, The Parent 'Hood and Sister, Sister (the latter of which was picked up by the network after being cancelled by ABC) – were renewed beyond the first year, none of them made a significant impact. The WB Television Network began programming on Sunday nights in the 1995–1996 season, but none of the new shows (including the Kirk Cameron vehicle Kirk and night-time soap opera Savannah) managed to garner much viewing interest. Still, the network continued to expand in the 1996–1997 season, adding programming on Monday nights.7 This season gave The WB modest hits in the family drama 7th Heaven and comedies The Steve Harvey Show and The Jamie Foxx Show.
The network also added the Kids' WB programming block in 1995, which mixed Warner Brothers' biggest hit animated shows (Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and later Batman: The Animated Series, all of which originated either on Fox Kids or in syndication), with new productions and original shows (such as Freakazoid!, Histeria!, Superman: The Animated Series, Road Rovers, Pinky and the Brain and Batman Beyond).
The WB Television Network first began to experience success with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which became a hit with critics when it appeared as a mid-season replacement in March 1997. It debuted with the highest Monday night ratings in the network's history, attracting not only new teenage viewers, but new advertisers as well.8
Inspired by Buffy's success, The WB intentionally shifted the focus of its programming, trying to capture what it perceived to be a heavily fragmented market by marketing to the under-courted teen demographic. While the Fox network, the previous destination for teen television (with shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Parker Lewis Can't Lose), began to court older audiences with shows such as Ally McBeal, The WB began to craft its identity with teen-targeted programs. The network's breakout hit and, arguably, its signature series was Dawson's Creek, which debuted in January 1998 to what were then the highest ratings in the network's history. It quickly became the highest rated show on television among teenage girls, and the most popular show on the network. The popularity of the show helped boost other network shows, such as Buffy, which served as its lead-in on the network's new night of programming also launched in January 1998, known as "New Tuesday," and 7th Heaven, which enjoyed a massive 81% increase in viewership that season.
With three hit shows in its roster, The WB Television Network continued to build its teen fanbase the following season with college drama Felicity and the wicca-themed Charmed, both of which set new records for the network when they premiered with 7.1 and 7.7 million viewers, respectively (Charmed had the highest-rated premiere on the network until Smallville broke its record, debuting to 8.4 million viewers in October 2001). At the start of the 1998–99 season, the network expanded its programming to Thursday nights. That season, 7th Heaven garnered The WB the highest ratings it would ever see (the show's February 8, 1999 episode attracted 12.5 million viewers) and the series overtook Dawson's Creek as the network's highest rated show.
In the 1999–2000 season, the network expanded once again, adding Friday night programming.9 New shows that season included Roswell, Popular, and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off Angel, the latter of which premiered with 7.5 million viewers – the second highest rated premiere for the network at the time. During this season, The WB was the only network to have gains in its total audience viewership and in each key demographic.
As the teen boom of the late 1990s began to wane, The WB attempted to broaden the scope of its primetime lineup. Although teen fare like Popular and Roswell had premiered to strong ratings, both series saw serious ratings erosion in their sophomore seasons, leading the network to cancel both (Roswell, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, would end up being revived by rival network UPN). Meanwhile, even though ratings for 7th Heaven, Buffy, and Charmed remained consistent, viewership for flagship series such as Felicity and Dawson's Creek began sagging. The network realized that it could no longer rely merely on the tastes of young teenage girls, and thus began moving into more family-friendly fare, attempting to launch a successful sitcom, and generally targeting a more diverse audience.
This new strategy came as The WB dropped to sixth place in the ratings (behind UPN) during the 1999–2000 season, losing 19% of its household audience; network executives attributed the ratings decline in large part due to the Tribune Company's October 1999 decision to remove WB network programming from WGN-TV's superstation feed on the pretense that the network's national distribution was large enough that it was no longer necessary for WGN to broadcast The WB's programs outside of Chicago, this effectively reduced The WB's potential household audience by 10 million homes (WGN-TV continued to carry WB programming over-the-air and on cable within the Chicago television market until the network shut down in 2006) – the network made several affiliation deals during the prior four years with various station owners (such as Sinclair Broadcast Group and Pappas Telecasting Companies), buoyed by the September 1998 launch of The WB 100+ Station Group, a national cable-only service that served Nielsen media markets within the 110 smallest in the United States that did not have enough broadcast stations to support an over-the-air affiliate.10
Despite the slight downturn in the network's fortunes, there were a few bright spots during the era. Gilmore Girls, which debuted in 2000, netted meager ratings when it debuted in a tough Thursday time-slot, but subsequently grew into one of the network's most successful shows after moving in 2001 to its Tuesday time-slot where it remained for seven seasons. Also in the fall of 2000, the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch moved to The WB's Friday night schedule from ABC. The show continued on The WB for three more seasons before ending in 2003. In 2001, the Superman-inspired Smallville debuted with 8.4 million viewers, the highest premiere in the history of the network; the latter show was also important because it was one of the few shows that drew a substantial male viewership. 2001 also saw the launch of the Reba McEntire vehicle Reba, arguably the network's most successful comedic series. Other series to gain attention during this time period were the family series Everwood, and the short-lived but critically acclaimed soap satire Grosse Pointe.
Time Warner also moved operational duties for The WB over to its Turner Broadcasting System division from Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2001; this lasted until 2003, when the network's operations were reassigned back to the Warner Bros. unit.
Despite some early success, the network struggled to shift its focus from the female 12–24 demographic to the broader 12–34 range. In 2005, the network abandoned Michigan J. Frog, as the network's trademark mascot. The WB Television Network's then-entertainment president David Janollari, explained in July 2005 at the network's summer press tour that "[Michigan] was a symbol that perpetuated the young-teen feel of the network. That's not the image we [now] want to put to our audience."11
Still, the move did not seem to help the network. The period from 2003 to 2005 produced only three viable new series, One Tree Hill, Beauty and the Geek and Supernatural (all of which ultimately moved to successor network The CW), and even still their ratings paled in comparison to the ratings peaks of Dawson's Creek, which had ended its run in 2003. Ratings dropped for shows like Angel (which was canceled in 2004), and the network failed to launch new hit shows to take their places.
Although The WB's well-known inability to launch successful comedy series was nothing new (Reba being the sole exception), this period saw the network struggling to establish new dramas as well. High-profile failures included Birds of Prey (inspired by the Batman mythos, and which premiered with an impressive 8 share), Tarzan, Jack & Bobby, The Mountain, Jerry Bruckheimer's Just Legal, Marta Kauffman's Related, and the Rebecca Romijn vehicle Pepper Dennis.
During the 2004–05 season, The WB finished behind rival UPN for the first time in several years, and fell even further behind in the fall of 2005. Both networks fell behind the Spanish language network Univision in the overall 18–34 demographic.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced plans to shut down both UPN and The WB and launch a new network, The CW, in their place.1213 Over the next nine months, it was to be seen which shows from the two networks would cross over to the new CW, as well as which stations across the country would become future affiliates of the new network. In the end, 7th Heaven, Beauty and the Geek, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Reba, Smallville, and Supernatural were chosen to move from The WB to the new CW's Fall 2006 schedule. 7th Heaven and Reba were originally canceled after the 2005–06 season, but were ultimately renewed at the last minute with 13-episode deals (the former show was later given a full-season order, while the latter served as a midseason replacement and, in spite of becoming The CW's highest-rated comedy of the 2006–07 season, ended rather abruptly). Supernatural, which entered its eighth season in 2012 and was renewed for a ninth season in 2013,14 is currently the last surviving series from The WB. Tribune Broadcasting also committed 16 of its then-19 WB affiliates to serve as the network's core affiliates – alongside 11 UPN owned-and-operated stations named as charter stations by CBS Corporation.
Starting on August 14, 2006 with the Daytime WB block, the WB 'bug' was removed from the lower right corner of the TV screen and was replaced with a countdown of days until The CW launched. Some stations which converted to MyNetworkTV or became independent stations received a logo-free feed of the network, while others took the main feed and overlaid their local logo bug over the CW logo.
The WB Television Network broadcast its final night of programming on Sunday, September 17, 2006 with The Night of Favorites and Farewells, a five-hour block of pilot episodes of their past signature series. Commercial breaks featured reairings of past image campaigns and network promotions, along with promo spots given to cable networks carrying these shows in off-network syndication and ads for each series' TV-on-DVD box set.15 The final 60-second montage that aired featured many of the network's stars over the eleven-year run of the network, ending with the words "For 11 years, you brought us into our homes. We made you smile and tugged at your heart. And now, we say goodbye. From all of us at The WB, thank you." The final image of the montage was a silhouette of The WB's former mascot Michigan J. Frog (who was shown as a silhouette because he was retired as the network's mascot the year before), who is shown taking his hat off and bowing, thanking the audience for watching for 11 years.
The final night of WB programming netted relatively low ratings. The network scored a 1.0 household rating (1% of total households in the US) and a share of 2, meaning just 2% of viewers were tuned in to WB on its final night.16 This may mostly be due to certain areas whose The WB affiliates became MyNetworkTV affiliates, leaving The WB's final two weeks of programming unavailable in those areas. After its closure, the network's URLs were redirected to The CW's website. By March 30, 2008, the URLs redirected to the Warner Bros. Studios homepage. As of April 28, 2008, they now redirect to the Beta.TheWB.com website.
The CW maintained many operational and scheduling elements from The WB; when it launched on September 18, 2006, The CW initially maintained The WB's scheduling model13 as The WB ran 30 hours of network programming each week (13 of which were devoted to primetime shows) in comparison to UPN's 12 hours of programming weekly (10 hours of which were in primetime); it also inherited The WB 100+ Station Group (which became The CW Plus), though several cable-only affiliates of The WB 100+ that joined The CW Plus have been replaced by or converted into digital subchannel affiliations on existing major network affiliates over time. The CW continued the Daytime WB block (which became The CW Daytime, and was reduced from two hours to one in 2010), although two blocks that moved to The CW from The WB would eventually be discontinued: Kids' WB continued on The CW until May 17, 2008, when it was replaced with The CW4Kids after 4Kids Entertainment began programming The CW's Saturday morning block through a time-lease agreement (Kids' WB was later relaunched as an online portal); The CW discontinued its Sunday primetime schedule in September 2009, effectively ending the EasyView block in the process.
The Warner Bros.' television arm planned on resurrecting the WB Television Network in the form of a website at TheWB.com, the website domain used for the official site of the television network. The site streams free episodes of all WB-aired and produced series during the network's 1995–2006 run, including Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Everwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Roswell and What I Like About You.
Warner Bros. also introduced original serialized web-content produced by such television heavyweight producers as Josh Schwartz and McG for the website when it was launched on August 2008, including original series such as Sorority Forever, Pushed, Rockville, CA, The Lake and Childrens Hospital (the latter's popularity was sustained enough to receive a run and eventual move to cable as a regular series on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim). Many other well-known Warner Bros.-produced series that did not air on the WB Television Network, including Friends and The O.C. are also available. However, the site does not contain episodes of Charmed or Felicity, which were two of WB's most popular shows, as Charmed is owned by CBS Television Distribution and Felicity is owned by Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
The site – whose business model resembles that of Hulu – is ad-supported and geared primarily to women ages 15–39. In addition to older full-length series (among which also include All of Us, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Martin, Jack & Bobby, One Tree Hill, The O.C. and Veronica Mars), the site features new short series and vignettes. Each of these episode runs 5 minutes, with 10 installments planned. Comcast offers over 1,000 episodes from the Warner Bros. Television library on its video on demand service.17
TheWB.com made its official launch on August 27, 2008.1819 While Warner, a division of Time Warner, has not promoted the site in any multimedia ads, it is drawing about 250,000 unique viewers a month, said MindShare’s Mr. Chapman, who has been tracking the site. Some of its original material is being offered on partner sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Data compiled by comScore Video Metrix shows that 62 percent of current visitors to the site are female.
An original series, Sorority Forever, from McG, had its premiere on the site on September 8, 2008. It has recorded more than 7.3 million video views since then from The WB site and partner sites. An original reality series, Rich Girl, Poor Girl from Gary Auerbach, the executive producer of Laguna Beach and Newport Harbor, in which two teenagers from different economic and social backgrounds swap lives (similar to Wife Swap), has ranked among the top 100 programs in the teenage category on iTunes since its October 20, 2008 debut.20
The clothing retailer H&M, not a traditional TV advertiser, sponsored Sorority Forever and had some of its clothing worn by characters in the series. Unilever’s Axe brand has sponsored Children's’ Hospital. ”If an advertiser has an interest in a series we have in production, we can work in their products or even adjust our launch dates if they want to tie it in to a special promotion,” said Craig Erwich, executive vice president, Warner Horizon Television, who oversees TheWB.com.21
At the time of its shutdown, The WB ran only two hours of primetime network programming on Monday through Fridays and six hours on Sundays, compared to the three Monday through Saturday and four Sunday primetime hours offered by the Big Three networks (unlike The WB, UPN never carried any weekend primetime programming, though it did offer a movie package to its affiliates on weekend afternoons until 2002, when it was replaced with a two-hour repeat block of UPN programs). This primetime scheduling allowed for many of the network's affiliates to air local newscasts during the 10-11 p.m. (ET/PT) time period.
The WB never ran network programming on Saturday nights – despite the fact that the network maintains a children's program block on Saturday mornings – allowing affiliates to run syndicated programs, sports, movies or network programs that were preempted from earlier in the week due to special programming in the 8–10 p.m. (ET/PT) time period.
The WB's Sunday schedule was originally three hours when the network began programming that night in September 1995, but expanded to five hours (from 5–10 p.m. ET/PT) in 2002, with the creation of the "EasyView" repeat block – which featured episodes of select primetime shows from the previous week during the first two hours of the network's Sunday lineup (that block was retained by The CW, which initially adopted The WB's scheduling model until it turned Sunday programming over to its affiliates in September 2009). In comparison to ABC and CBS, The WB also had the fewest hours devoted to daytime programming on weekdays between 2000 (when the network dropped the weekday morning block of Kids' WB programs) and 2006, running only two hours of programming each weekday afternoon (compared to 4½ hours on CBS and four hours on ABC) – NBC in comparison ran only three hours of daytime programming each weekday (not counting its morning news program Today) until 2000, when it scaled back its daytime programming block to two hours. Because of these reasons, the schedules of The WB's affiliates were largely composed of syndicated programming.
Unlike the other major networks, The WB distributed its programming in markets that did not have enough commercial stations to support a standalone WB affiliate to cable-only outlets: Chicago-based superstation WGN America carried the network's programming from 1995 to 1999 for most areas that fell under this distinction but also areas that did have enough stations to allow both The WB and UPN to be carried on separate affiliates – instead of carrying both networks on one station – but where The WB did not yet have a full-time affiliate. While viewers in the Chicago area saw primetime and Kids' WB programming on separate stations until 2004 (primetime shows on WGN-TV, children's programs on WCIU-TV), the WGN superstation feed carried The WB's entire schedule during the four-year period that it carried the network.
In September 1998, The WB launched an alternate national feed for small and certain mid-size markets of the United States (generally those within the bottom 110 Nielsen media markets) called The WB 100+ Station Group.222324 The service's affiliates were cable-only television channels (mainly operated by area cable providers), though The WB 100+ was also carried on full-power or low-power stations in some markets. The service offered its own master schedule with syndicated programs (including some feature films and infomercials) airing outside of network programming hours; the addition of local advertisements and newscasts were at the discretion of the local distributor. Stations that part of The WB 100+ Station Group largely joined The CW Plus after The CW's September 2006 launch, though most of the cable-only affiliates that became part of The CW Plus have since been replaced by or converted into digital subchannels carried by major network affiliates.
Toledo, Ohio's WT05 was The WB's only cable-exclusive affiliate that was not part of The WB 100+ Station Group; the channel's owner Block Communications (which operates area cable provider Buckeye CableSystem) handled programming of the channel, running its own schedule of syndicated programs during non-network hours – a model WT05 maintain as a CW affiliate.
News programming on The WB's affiliates were similar to Fox stations at the time in that the quantity of newscasts varies from station to station. Roughly half of The WB's approximately 200 affiliates aired a local newscast in the 10–11 p.m. ET/PT (9–10 p.m. CT/MT) time slot at some point during or throughout their affiliations with the network. Fundamentally, the newscast schedules on WB affiliates varied considerably between stations compared to those affiliated with ABC, CBS, NBC and especially Fox. Generally, most WB affiliates ran a two-hour extension of a morning newscast and a half-hour or hour-long 10 p.m. newscast; though there were a few larger market stations that maintained in-house news departments that also produced midday newscasts and had morning newscasts that began in the traditional 5-7 a.m. timeslots; early evening newscasts were largely absent on most of these stations.
The WB affiliate body featured fewer news-producing stations in comparison to stations aligned with the Big Three television networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and considerably fewer than Fox (which has only around 70 stations with in-house news departments, with most of its stations outsourcing their news programming to a competitor). When the network launched in January 1995, The WB automatically gained five affiliates with functioning news departments through the initial affiliation agreement with Tribune Broadcasting, all of whom founded their news operations as either independent stations or during early affiliations with other networks including DuMont: WGN-TV/Chicago, WPIX/New York City, KTLA/Los Angeles, KWGN-TV/Denver and WLVI-TV/Boston (a fifth news-producing station owned by Tribune at the time, WGNX/Atlanta, was to become a WB charter affiliate but instead affiliated with CBS after WAGA-TV ended its association with that network to join Fox in December 1994, through a groupwide affiliation deal between Fox and New World Communications).25 KPLR-TV/St. Louis (which would not be acquired by Tribune until 2003, when it bought the station from ACME Communications) also continued to produce a 9 p.m. newscast as a WB affiliate.
In the late 1990s, Tribune then asked the company's remaining WB-affiliated stations that did not run newscasts to form news departments: KDAF/Dallas-Fort Worth, KHWB/Houston, KSWB-TV/San Diego and WPHL-TV/Philadelphia were the only ones to form news departments, all of which debuted in 1999 (KSWB and WPHL would both eventually shutter their news departments in 2005, outsourcing production of their 10 p.m. newscasts to NBC owned-and-operated stations in the respective markets, KSWB moved its newscast production back in-house after it dropped its affiliation with WB successor The CW for Fox in August 2008).262728 KNTV/San Jose became the largest news-producing WB affiliate by market size to be owned by a company other than Tribune (and the network's only affiliate to produce early evening newscasts) after it terminated its ABC affiliation, and began carrying WB programming (in a partial simulcast with then-sister station KBWB-TV) in 2000, before affiliating with – and then ultimately being purchased by – NBC in 2002.
Sinclair Broadcast Group also operated several WB affiliates with local news departments: Raleigh's WLFL was the only WB affiliate owned by Sinclair that had an news operation already in existence at the time it joined the network (the station began producing a 10 p.m. newscast in 1992, six years before the station ended its association with Fox to affiliate with The WB); the company's Tampa, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Norfolk29 affiliates began producing their own newscasts through Sinclair's local/national hybrid news format News Central in the early 2000s. The news departments of all seven stations were shut down in 2006 due to companywide cutbacks in Sinclair's news operations and the discontinuance of News Central.30 Of the former WB affiliates that produced newscasts during their affiliation with the network, only WGN-TV, WPIX, KDAF, KIAH and KTLA (all of whom became affiliates of The CW) continue to maintain self-supporting news departments as of April 2013[update] (KPLR and KWGN merged their news departments with those of Fox affiliates KTVI and KDVR through a 2008 management agreement between Tribune and Local TV, while WLVI shut down its news department after Tribune sold the station to Sunbeam Television in 2006, replacing it with a WHDH-produced 10 p.m. newscast).
In most markets, the local WB affiliate either outsourced news programming to an NBC, ABC or CBS station in the market (either due to insufficient funds for production of their own newscasts or in later years after the FCC permitted duopolies in markets with eight or more stations in 2000, the station being operated through a legal duopoly or operational agreement with a major network affiliate) or opted to carry syndicated programming in the hour following The WB's primetime programming. As with Fox affiliates, WB-affiliated stations whose newscasts were produced by a same-market competitor tend to have fewer programming hours devoted to news than the station producing the broadcasts.
The WB debuted the Kids' WB children's program block in September 1995; the block initially featured a mix of Warner Bros.' most popular shows (such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and later Batman: The Animated Series, all of which originated either on Fox Kids or in syndication) with newer series. After Turner Broadcasting System was acquired by Time Warner in 1996, Kids' WB formed an alliance with Cartoon Network, with an increasing amount of programs being shared between the block and the cable channel over time.
In February 1999, the Kids' WB block began running the American dub of the Japanese animated series Pokémon, which The WB acquired the U.S. rights from TV Tokyo earlier that year; the series ultimately became a widespread pop culture phenomenon. Kids' WB also acquired the English-language version of Yu-Gi-Oh!, which also saw the type of viewer popularity that Pokémon experienced. Between 2000 and 2005, Kids' WB experimented with some live-action programming, while continuing to mainly run animated series. A television series adaptation of R. L. Stine's The Nightmare Room debuted on the block in 2001, though it was cancelled after one season. It also aired the live-action made-for-TV movie Zolar, as well as the JammX Kids All-Star Dance Specials.
With Cartoon Network now outrating Fox Kids and The WB sharing more of its children's programming with the cable channel, The WB announced on May 31, 2005 that it would discontinue Kids' WB's weekday afternoon block, as it became financially unattractive as broadcast stations began to exclusively target a more adult audience with talk shows and sitcom reruns during afternoon timeslots, figuring that children's viewing options in that time period had gravitated more towards cable television. Kids' WB's weekday programming continued, but with redundant programming and theme weeks until December 30, 2005 (the block began to increasingly promote Cartoon Network's afternoon Miguzi block and the Kids' WB Saturday morning lineup during the transition). The weekday block was replaced by a block called "Daytime WB" on January 2, 2006, which featured repeats of sitcoms and drama series; five days later, the Kids' WB Saturday morning lineup was expanded by one hour.
The Daytime WB block continued on The CW, unofficially renamed The CW Daytime (though occasional on-air promos for the block do not refer to this name), The CW also kept the Kids' WB name for the network's Saturday morning children's programming. However on October 2, 2007, The CW announced that it would discontinue the Kids' WB block, due to the effects of children's advertising limits imposed by the FCC's E/I rules and competition with kid-oriented cable channels. The final Kids' WB block aired on May 17, 2008, replaced with a new block programmed in conjunction with 4Kids Entertainment called The CW4Kids (which was replced by Vortexx in September 2012, after Saban Brands and Kidsco Media Ventures took over programming the block as part of its acquisition of much of 4Kids's program library31). As a result of its distribution deal with The CW, 4Kids ran Saturday morning blocks for two networks during the 2008–09 season, as it already programmed Fox's 4Kids TV block (which ended on December 27, 2008).32
Like its parent network, Kids' WB was revived as an online-only network in August 2008. In addition to select previous Kids WB programs, the site also features other archived programs to which Time Warner owns or holds distribution rights, and programs seen on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
In 2005, The WB had an estimated audience reach of 91.66% of all U.S. households (equivalent to 90,282,480 households with at least one television set); the network was carried by 177 VHF and UHF stations in the U.S., counting both owned-and-operated stations and affiliates. The WB's owned-and-operated stations were not actually owned by Time Warner as it did not have a station group of its own during the network's run (the company's only television station is Atlanta independent station WPCH-TV, owned by its Turner Broadcasting System division); instead, the network's O&Os were owned by Tribune Broadcasting, through the Tribune Company's ownership stake in the network.
When The WB launched in 1995, the network began branding most of its affiliates as "WB" or "The WB", then the channel number. This meant that, for example, WPIX/New York City and KPLR-TV/St. Louis were both referred to as "WB11" (though WPIX branded as "The WB, Channel 11" until 1996, and KPLR as "St. Louis 11" until 1998). Fox originated such naming schemes, and CBS uses similar on-air branding for most of their owned-and-operated stations (NBC and ABC also utilize similar, but less extreme, naming schemes). While Fox and UPN mandated their respective naming schemes on all stations, The WB did not. Therefore, other WB affiliates opted to use different naming schemes: WGN-TV/Chicago branded as "WGN Channel 9" (or simply "WGN") with The WB's logo placed within the right curve of the station's "9 as an upside-down G" logo after the network launched, and next to a boxed "9" from 2002 to 2006.
Most of the Tribune Company's WB affiliates only used the network's logo within the logos of each station or used "The WB" name after the callsign in its on-air branding (an example was Los Angeles affiliate KTLA, which branded as "KTLA, The WB"). Many WB affiliates used another form of standardized branding: the network's Lakeland, Florida affiliate acquired the WWWB call letters and branded on-air as "The WB 32." Other stations would take on a 'by city' branding approach (for example, KHWB/Houston was called "Houston's WB" and WLVI/Boston was called "Boston's WB" – both used the "WB (channel number)" branding prior to incorporating the station's city of primary service); some stations which followed this scheme used a regional name instead of a specific city (such as "Capital Region's WB" for WEWB/Albany, New York or "Hawaii's WB" for KFVE/Honolulu, Hawaii), while others incorporated the channel number (such as WPHL-TV/Philadelphia as "Philadelphia's WB17", or Mobile, Alabama's WBPG as "The Gulf Coast's WB55"). Many stations affiliated with The WB 100+ Station Group also followed either one of these variations on "The City/Region's WB" scheme (though the group's cable-only affiliates also used fictional call signs).
- Sources vary as to the exact composition of The WB's ownership. According to at least one source, as of 2001, the ownership was split among Warner Bros. (Time Warner) (64%), Tribune Company (25%), and Jamie Kellner's firm ACME Communications (11%) . Published reports in early 2006, dealing with the launch of The CW, suggested Tribune was at the time the only minority shareholder, with just 22.5% (giving Warner Bros. 77.5%), which it would be relinquishing in order to avoid shutdown costs for WB.
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- WB 100 Plus Stations Act Locally
- The WB 100+ station group hits 8 million, more than doubling its household reach since launch, Time Warner, January 15, 2002.
- A Salute to The WB 100+ Station Group on its Fifth Anniversary
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- WTVZ PONDERS A JUMP INTO THE 10 P.M. NEWS POOL
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- Official website Only available in the United States
- WB India – Now that's Hollywood in India
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- The WB on Facebook
- The WB on Twitter
- The WB's channel on YouTube
- Farewell video
- A Clip of the final few moments.