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UPN (1995)

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United Paramount Network was a television network that was broadcast in over 200 markets in the United States from 1995 to 2006. UPN was originally owned by Viacom/Paramount and Chris-Craft Industries, the former of which, through the Paramount Television Group, produced most of the network's series. It was later owned by CBS Corporation. Its first night of broadcasting was on January 16, 1995. UPN shut down on September 15, 2006, and merged with The WB, which was shut down two days later, to form The CW Television Network.


 Origins (1949–1993)
Paramount Pictures (the "P" in UPN) has played a pivotal role in the development of network television; it was a partner in the DuMont Television Network, and the Paramount Theaters chain, spun off from the corporate/studio parent, was an early, important component of the ABC television network's survival in the 1950s. The Paramount Television Network was launched in 1949, but dissolved in the 1950s.

In the wake of the successful Universal Studios ad hoc syndicated package Operation Prime Time, which featured first a miniseries adaptation of John Jakes' novel The Bastard and went on to several more productions, Paramount had earlier contemplated its own television network with the Paramount Television Service. Set to launch in early 1978, its programming would have consisted of only one night a week. Thirty "Movies of the Week" would have followed Star Trek: Phase II on Saturday nights. Plans for the new network were scrapped when sufficient advertising slots could not be sold, though Paramount would contribute some programs to Operation Prime Time, such as the mini-series A Woman Called Golda, and the weekly pop music program, Solid Gold. Star Trek: Phase II went into production as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, absorbing the costs already incurred of the aborted television series.

Paramount, and its eventual parent Viacom, did not try to forget about the possibility. Independent stations, even more than network affiliates, were feeling the growing pressure of audience erosion to cable television in the 1980s and 1990s, and there were unaffiliated commercial stations in most of the major markets, at least, even after the foundation of Fox in 1986. Meanwhile, Paramount, long successful in syndication with repeats of Star Trek, found itself with several first-run syndicated series by the turn of the 1990s, in Entertainment Tonight, The Arsenio Hall Show, Friday the 13th: The Series, War of the Worlds, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

In 1993, Warner Bros. and Chris-Craft Industries went into a joint venture to distribute programming via a prime time programming block, which grew into its own network, the Prime Time Entertainment Network . PTEN can be seen as the ancestor of what would become UPN and The WB, since Chris-Craft later became a partner in UPN, while Warner Bros. launched The WB, at roughly the same time , before both merged to form The CW Television Network in September 2006.

 Launch (1994–2000)

Paramount had formed Paramount Stations Group when it purchased the TVX Group, which owned several independent stations in major markets. This was not unlike of the purchase of the Metromedia stations by News Corporation 10 years earlier, which were used as the nuclei for Fox. In another parallel, 20th Century Fox had long been a powerhouse in television syndication. All indicators suggested that Paramount was about to launch a network of its own. In late 1994, Paramount announced formation of the United Paramount Network. The new network was a joint venture between Paramount and Chris-Craft Industries. The "U" in UPN came from United Television, a Chris-Craft subsidiary. Both companies owned independent stations in several large cities in the United States. The new network launched on January 16, 1995; less than a year earlier, Paramount had been bought by Viacom.

The first telecast, the two-hour pilot of Star Trek: Voyager, was an auspiciously widely viewed start; however, Voyager would never achieve such viewership levels again, nor would any of the series debuting on UPN's second night of broadcasting survive the season. In contrast, The WB debuted one week earlier, on January 11, with four series, only one of which, Muscle, would not survive its first season. The first comedy shows to debut were Platypus Man, starring Richard Jeni, and Pig Sty, with both shows airing Monday nights in the 9:00 PM hour. Both received mixed reviews and neither lasted long. Other early UPN programs included the action show Nowhere Man starring Bruce Greenwood, the action show Marker starring Richard Grieco, the comic western Legend starring Richard Dean Anderson (a veteran of Paramount's MacGyver), the science-fiction themed action show, The Sentinel, and Moesha, a sitcom starring Brandy Norwood. Of the network's early offerings, only Star Trek: Voyager, Moesha, and The Sentinel would last longer than one season.

 Viacom era and decline (2000–2006)

In 2000, Viacom bought Chris-Craft's share stake to gain 100 percent control of the venture. Shortly afterward, Viacom dropped the "United" name for its new network, opting to change the official corporate name to the three-letter initials, "UPN". Viacom also aimed to relaunch UPN as Paramount Network, using a logo based on the famous Paramount Pictures mountain logo and the "P" triangle of the UPN logo, which already stood for Paramount, as the new network logo. This idea was abandoned after many affiliates protested, citing that the new branding might cause confusion and erode viewership. A few months before, Viacom bought CBS, thus creating CBS-UPN duopolies in Philadelphia (KYW-TV and WPSG), Boston (WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV), Miami (WFOR-TV and WBFS-TV), Dallas/Fort Worth , Detroit (WWJ-TV and WKBD-TV), and Pittsburgh (KDKA-TV and WNPA). It is said that Viacom's purchase of CBS was the "death knell" for the FCC's "no duopolies at all rule". Further transactions added San Francisco (KPIX-TV and KBHK), which was traded to Viacom/CBS by Fox, and Sacramento (KOVR and KMAX-TV) to the mix.

At the time of UPN's launch, the network's flagship station was WWOR-TV in New York City, owned by Chris-Craft. Even after Chris-Craft sold its share of the network to Viacom, WWOR was still commonly regarded as the flagship station since it had long been common practice to accord this status to a network's New York station. For this reason, some cast doubt on UPN's future after Fox bought most of Chris-Craft's television holdings. Several UPN stations were part of the deal, including WWOR and West Coast flagship KCOP-TV in Los Angeles. Fox later bought the third-largest UPN affiliate, WPWR-TV in Chicago. After Chris-Craft sold its stake in UPN, the network's largest owned-and-operated station was WPSG in Philadelphia.

In 2001, UPN acquired Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell for their final seasons from network rival The WB in a public bidding war between the two with producing studio 20th Century Fox Television. UPN eventually outbid The WB for the shows and aired them together on Tuesday nights until Roswell ended its run in 2002 and Buffy the following year in 2003. New shows began to breathe life into the network starting in fall 2003 with America's Next Top Model and Will Smith's All of Us, in fall 2004 with Veronica Mars, and in fall 2005 with Chris Rock's Everybody Hates Chris.

When Viacom split into two companies at the end of 2005, its over-the-air broadcasting interests, including UPN, became part of CBS Corporation.

UPN quietly went off the air on September 15, 2006; WWE SmackDown was the last official program , ending its existence after 11 years. However, UPN affiliates owned by Fox Television Stations Group ended all ties to the network on August 31, 2006. Before that, within days of the new network's announcement, Fox-owned UPN affiliates stopped using the UPN branding and dropped all advertisement for UPN. As a result UPN did not air its last two weeks of programming in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and six other media markets in which Fox owned the UPN station, also due in part to then upstart Fox owned MyNetworkTV, which was set to debut September 5, 2006 on those stations. With the exception of WWE SmackDown, all programming during the final three months were reruns. SmackDown!, however, was aired in those markets on WB stations owned by Tribune, which have since become CW stations.

After the network's official closure, UPN's website was redirected to The CW website, and then CBS's website.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "United Paramount Network", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.