Master Distribution Service, Inc., branded as MyNetworkTV (unofficially abbreviated as MyTV, MyNet, MNT or MNTV), is an American television network/syndication service that is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group division of 21st Century Fox, and operated by subsidiaries Fox Television Stations and 20th Television. MyNetworkTV began operations on September 5, 2006 with an initial affiliate lineup covering about 96% of the country, most of which consisted of stations that were former affiliates of The WB and UPN that did not join the successor of those two networks, The CW.
On September 28, 2009, following disappointment with the network's results, MyNetworkTV dropped its status as a television network and transitioned into a programming service, similar to Ion Television, relying mainly on repeats of recent broadcast and cable series.
|Master Distribution Service, Inc.|
|Availability||Nationwide via OTA digital television
(covering 97% of the U.S.)
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California|
|Owner||21st Century Fox|
|Parent||Fox Entertainment Group|
|September 5, 2006|
|Affiliates||List of affiliates|
MyNetworkTV arose from the January 2006 announcement of the launch of The CW, a television network formed by CBS Corporation and Time Warner which essentially combined programming from The WB and UPN onto the scheduling model of the former of the two predecessors. As a result of several deals earlier in the decade, Fox Television Stations owned several UPN affiliates, including the network's three largest stations: WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey (part of the New York City market), KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and WPWR-TV in Chicago. Fox had acquired WWOR and KCOP after purchasing most of the television holdings of UPN's founding partner Chris-Craft Industries, while WPWR was purchased by the company in 2003 from Newsweb Corporation. Despite concerns about UPN's future that came up after Fox purchased the Chris-Craft stations, UPN signed three-year affiliation renewals with the network's Fox-owned affiliates in 2003. That agreement's pending expiration, along with those involving other broadcasting companies, in 2006 as well as persistent financial losses for both it and The WB gave CBS Corporation (the parent company of UPN) and Time Warner (parent of The WB) the rare opportunity to merge their respective struggling networks into The CW.
The CW's initial affiliation agreements did not include any of the UPN stations (nor a lone independent station) owned by Fox Television Stations. In fact, as part of a ten-year affiliation deal with The WB's part-owner, Tribune Broadcasting, the coveted New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago affiliations all went to Tribune-owned stations (WPIX, KTLA and WGN-TV, respectively). In response to the announcement, Fox promptly removed all network references from logos and promotional materials on its UPN affiliates, and ceased on-air promotion of UPN's programs altogether. However, in all three cases (especially in the cases of Los Angeles and Chicago), the WB affiliate was the higher-rated station; CW executives were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates.
Media reports speculated that the Fox-owned UPN affiliates would all revert to being independent stations, or else form another network by uniting with other UPN and WB affiliated stations that were left out of The CW's affiliation deals. Fox chose the latter route, and announced the launch of MyNetworkTV on February 22, 2006, less than a month after CBS and Time Warner announced the formation of The CW on January 24.
MyNetworkTV began operations on September 5, 2006, with the premieres of its two initial series. Some affiliates unofficially began branding their stations on September 4, 2006 – Labor Day – with supplied preview specials. Initially, programming aired Monday through Saturdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific Time). As of April 2013, MyNetworkTV broadcasts ten hours of primetime programming each week, airing on Monday through Friday evenings from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific; MyNetworkTV is one of only two broadcast networks in the United States that do not currently schedule any primetime programs on weekends (The CW initially ran programming on Sunday nights from September 2006 until September 2009, when it turned over the five-hour block of programs that aired on Sunday late afternoons and evenings to its affiliates).
Heavy local sports preemptions were previously a problem for MyNetworkTV at its launch, as they were for all of the U.S. broadcast networks that have debuted since the January 1995 launches of The WB and UPN. However, these have become less of an issue with the end of the network's telenovela strategy, where an airing of the pre-empted telenovela episode rescheduled as soon as possible on the same day was required by default rather than the flexibility that affiliates of UPN, The WB or The CW had to push a show off to a weekend slot. With the service's switch to an all-rerun schedule in 2009, this effectively allows stations to pre-empt repeat programming at will to fit in sporting events (mainly those provided by syndication services such as ESPN Regional Television and the ACC Network, as some local events that had aired on its affiliates have moved to regional sports networks in the time since MyNetworkTV launched) without much consequence. During the telenovela era, affiliates often scheduled contractual "make goods" of the network's daily schedule between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. local time. Not only are these light viewing hours, but they air after Nielsen processes its preliminary morning network ratings.
Depending on the market, many current and former affiliate stations have presented MyNetworkTV programs out of pattern – either to run syndicated programs or local newscasts, or because of an existing affiliation with another network:
The network's original format focused on the 18-to-49-year-old, English-speaking population with programming consisting exclusively of telenovelas (a version of the soap opera format rarely attempted on American television outside of Spanish language broadcast networks, much less in primetime), starting with Desire and Fashion House. Originally, each series aired Monday through Friday in continuous cycles of 13-week seasons, with a one-hour recap of the week's episodes airing on Saturdays; when one series ended, another unrelated series would begin the following week. The fifth and sixth series, American Heiress and Saints and Sinners, appeared one hour per week on Wednesdays before abruptly vanishing from the schedule. The MyNetworkTV serial lineup was broadcast in Australia on the W. Channel under the block name FOXTELENOVELA. In Canada, the first Desire/Fashion House cycle aired weekday afternoons on Toronto independent station CKXT-TV, which decided not to air subsequent cycles for unknown reasons.
The announcement of the network also stated that additional unscripted reality-based and current-affairs programming were in development. These included:
MyNetworkTV abandoned development of these programs in Summer 2006, choosing to focus solely on telenovelas.
Later announcements by Fox regarding additional programming to air on MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated stations – such as Desperate Housewives repeats in traditional weekend syndication, a trial run of the sitcom Tyler Perry's House of Payne (which later moved to TBS), and the daytime viewer-participation game show My GamesFever – never applied to the network as a whole.
MyNetworkTV does not supply any children's programming, late-night programming or any news or sports programming. San Francisco affiliate KRON-TV (which has maintained a news department since it launched as an NBC affiliate in 1949) is currently the only station aligned with the service that produces its own local news programming, giving MyNetworkTV the fewest news-producing stations among the six major broadcast networks (in comparison, The CW has nine news-producing stations within its portfolio).
Many of the service's other affiliates carry local newscasts produced through a news share agreement with a station affiliated with one of the major networks (most often, these are produced by those owned or managed alongside the local MyNetworkTV-affiliated station), and may serve as broadcasters for local sports teams. They may also air Big Four network programming as an alternate outlet due to either breaking news or major sporting events.
In response to the telenovela lineup's poor ratings performance, highlighted by an average household rating of 0.7%, reports surfaced that Fox executives were planning a major revamp of MyNetworkTV's programming, decreasing its reliance on telenovelas and adding new unscripted programs to the schedule such as reality shows, game shows (such as My GamesFever), movies and sports, and a possible revisit to a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, MyNetworkTV instead signed a deal with another mixed martial arts organization, the International Fight League, in conjunction with Fox Sports Net.
On February 1, 2007, Greg Meidel, who was named to the newly created position of network president just ten days earlier, confirmed the rumors and unveiled a dramatically revamped lineup. The intent of the shakeup was to increase viewer awareness of the network (and boost viewership, in turn), as well as to satisfy local affiliates who were disappointed over the poor ratings performance of the network under its initial format. After March 7 (when Wicked Wicked Games and Watch Over Me finished their runs), telenovelas were reduced to occupying only two nights of its programming schedule, airing in two-hour movie-style blocks rather than each of the serials airing in a one-hour, five-night-a-week format. The remainder of the schedule included theatrical movies and the new IFL Battleground (originally titled Total Impact). In addition, the Saturday night telenovela recaps ended immediately, with movies running on that night until March. The 1986 film Something Wild aired on February 3, becoming the network's first non-telenovela presentation.
Specials (ranging from the World Music Awards to the Hawaiian Tropic International Beauty Pageant) and reality programming were also a part of the network's reformatting, with the first two specials airing on March 7. MyNetworkTV also reduced its telenovela programming to a single night each week, with American Heiress and Saints & Sinners airing for one hour each on Wednesdays until their unexpected termination, due to incompatible flow with IFC Battleground from Monday to Tuesday as far as promotions. The new Thursday night movie block featured mostly action/adventure films, with Friday night featuring a mix of contemporary classic films, beginning on June 5.
A side effect of the new programming schedule was the loss of the network's claim that it was the only U.S. broadcast network at the time to have its entire programming schedule available in high definition, due to the IFL, some of the network's movies and additional programs being produced exclusively in 480i standard definition. In the fall of 2007, MyNetworkTV dropped telenovelas altogether, and began to air reality series and sports programs.
On September 1, 2007, the network aired its first live program, the men's final of the AVP Croc Tour's Cincinnati Open. The network debuted its first sitcom, the Flavor Flav vehicle Under One Roof, on April 16, 2008; because the series used Canadian writers, it was unaffected by the 2007–08 Writers Guild strike.
On February 26, 2008, the network announced it had picked up the rights to air WWE SmackDown, which left The CW at the end of September 2008. The first Smackdown! episode on MyNetworkTV aired on October 3, 2008. The first episode of WWE SmackDown pulled in the largest audience in MyNetworkTV history with 3.2 million viewers, and for the first time, put the network in fifth place for the night – ahead of The CW – and was the top-rated program that night in the male 18-34 and 18-49 demographics.
MyNetworkTV's debut was far from successful. Desire scored a 1.1 household rating/2 share; Fashion House went up to 1.3/2. Fox had sold about half of its projections of $50 million in advance commercial sales. On March 7, 2007, MyNetworkTV began to be included in Nielsen's daily "Television Index" reports, alongside the other major broadcast networks, although it was still not part of the "fast nationals" that incorporate the other networks. Last-minute changes to MyNetworkTV's 2007-08 fall schedule included the retitling of the reality series Divorce Wars to Decision House, and the addition of Celebrity Exposé and Control Room Presents to the network's Monday lineup as well as a one-hour IFL Battleground, followed by NFL Total Access on Saturdays.
The network's shift from telenovelas, to reality shows and movies produced only a small bump in the ratings. It averaged only a .7 household rating during September 2007. MyNetworkTV continues to be the second lowest-rated English-language broadcast network in the United States, ahead of only Ion Television. The night MyNetworkTV debuted WWE SmackDown, the network took fifth place in household ratings ahead of The CW, but went back to sixth place shortly afterwards. Of the six broadcast networks, Nielsen Media Research said that only MyNetworkTV had increased viewership, with 1.76 million viewers per night, up 750,000 from the previous season.
On January 5, 2009, MyNetworkTV aired episodes of the 2002 revival of The Twilight Zone (which originally aired on UPN, one of the network's MyNetworkTV had replaced). The series helped the network's ratings rise, along with WWE SmackDown, becoming the second highest-rated program on the network. The highest-rated program to have ever aired on MyNetworkTV is a December 10, 2008 broadcast of the 1990 comedy film Home Alone, which brought in 3.70 million viewers (although not a record), but earned a 1.4 rating among the 18-49 adult demographic.
On February 9, 2009, Fox Entertainment Group announced that MyNetworkTV would convert from a television network to a programming service, similar to that of Ion Television, with a focus on repeats of acquired programs originally aired on broadcast and cable networks and in first-run syndication. Litton Entertainment had reportedly expressed interest in leasing MyNetworkTV's Saturday evening time slots, which MyNetworkTV chose to instead turn back over to its affiliates. MyNetworkTV began airing more syndicated programming in the fall, which included game shows and dramas, five nights a week.
On April 12, 2010, WWE announced that WWE SmackDown would move to the Syfy cable channel that October; the move left MyNetworkTV with no first-run programming other than that it shared with its syndicators. Despite the lack of first-run programming, MyNetworkTV renewed its affiliation contracts for three more years on February 14, 2011. The programming service has seen significant viewership growth in viewership since its 2006 startup as a television network. Although ratings on MyNetworkTV do not match those of the other broadcast networks, Nexstar Broadcasting Group CEO Perry Sook said, "I get more inventory per hour than I would get from Fox or ABC."
In announcing its fall schedule for the 2012-13 schedule, MyNetworkTV executives revealed that the programming service increased ratings over the previous year, and rated as the #6 most-watched network during the 2011-12 season with around 2.5 million viewers.
As of November 2017, MyNetworkTV has 184 owned-and-operated or affiliate stations in the United States, reaching 89.88% of all U.S. households with at least one television set (totaling approximately 118,666,200 homes). This number includes six stations owned at the time of its launch by companies involved in the founding of competitor The CW: three owned by Tribune Broadcasting (located in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Seattle), and three owned by CBS Corporation (the Gannett Company purchased Atlanta affiliate WATL from Tribune shortly after Fox confirmed it as a MyNetworkTV affiliate, with the sale being finalized on August 7, 2006). The Tribune Company sold its stake in The WB, in exchange for long-term affiliation contracts with The CW (Time Warner and CBS jointly own the network instead).
On March 6, 2006, the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced an agreement to affiliate 17 of its stations with MyNetworkTV (consisting mostly of stations that were set to lose their WB affiliations when The CW launched, as well as a few that were affiliated with UPN or operated as independent stations). This occurred despite the widespread presumption that affiliations with The CW, which at that point was in the process of signing affiliates in most markets, would be more valuable; however, Sinclair implied that MyNetworkTV was more financially attractive for the company (of the Sinclair stations that initially affiliated with MyNetworkTV, San Antonio affiliate KMYS has since disaffiliated from the service; its August 30, 2010 affiliation swap with Fredericksburg-based CW affiliate KCWX was the first and so far only known affiliation switch between same-market affiliates of the two netlets since their formation in 2006). One day later on March 7, Raycom Media announced that its WB and UPN stations (including WUAB/Cleveland, Ohio, KFVE/Honolulu, Hawaii and WBXH-CA/Baton Rouge, Louisiana) would also become charter affiliates of MyNetworkTV.
One of the stations named in a list of newly signed MyNetworkTV affiliates that Fox Entertainment Group released on April 26, 2006 was KNVA in Austin, Texas, which The CW had also added to its own list of confirmed affiliates one week prior. On May 1, 2006, another previously-confirmed CW affiliate, KWKB in Iowa City, Iowa, signed on as a MyNetworkTV charter affiliate. Until October 2009, these two stations were the only ones to be aligned with both new networks (KNVA has since become an exclusive CW affiliate as parent station KXAN-TV converted its semi-satellite KBVO into a standalone MyNetworkTV affiliate); KNVA branded its MyNetworkTV lineup under the banner "MyNetworkTV on The CW Austin," while KWKB's website features station logos labeled as both "KWKB The CW" and "My KWKB". In May, WAWB in Huntsville, Alabama officially announced that it would become a MyNetworkTV affiliate, and subsequently changed its call letters to WAMY.
On July 12, 2006, the network announced affiliation agreements with seven additional stations (including WBFS-TV/Miami, KTVD/Denver, WUPL/New Orleans and WAWS/Jacksonville, Florida (WAWS, along with WSYX/Columbus, Ohio and WHP-TV/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania carry MyNetworkTV on digital subchannels). The deal with CBS Television Stations to have MyNetworkTV affiliate with stations that were left out of The CW's affiliation deals with the group came as a surprise in the broadcasting industry, especially after the icy reception between CBS and News Corporation (which became 21st Century Fox through the July 2013 spin-off of the company's publishing unit and Australian television properties) that began after both it and The CW came into the picture, as they refused to allow WBFS, WUPL and Boston's WSBK-TV to affiliate with MyNetworkTV as a response to pulling UPN branding from that network's Fox-owned stations.
In August 2006, MyNetworkTV filled in its remaining gaps within the top 100 television markets. On August 11, the network announced affiliations with WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island (as a secondary affiliate) and WNGT-LP in Toledo, Ohio. Additionally, on August 22, MyNetworkTV added KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and WRGT-TV in Dayton, Ohio (the latter of which would carry the network on a digital subchannel) to the affiliate list on its website; also that month, WZMY in Derry, New Hampshire was announced as the network's Boston area affiliate (WBIN – the former WZMY – disaffiliated with MyNetworkTV in September 2011, at which time WSBK (which had shunned MyNetworkTV at its formation in 2006) took over the MyNetworkTV affiliation in Boston; KAUT became an independent station in September 2012, with MyNetworkTV moving to former independent KSBI).
From its inception as a network until July 2010, Mobile, Alabama was the largest city where MyNetworkTV did not have an affiliate, although Fort Walton Beach, Florida-based WFGX serves as the affiliate for the Mobile–Pensacola–Fort Walton Beach market. This was due to WFGX's weak analog signal, which was not receivable west of Pensacola, and the lack of a must-carry agreement with Comcast's Mobile system, most likely a remnant of the station's former status as a low-rated Jewelry Television affiliate prior to MyNetworkTV's launch); WFGX has since relocated its digital transmitter to Robertsdale, Alabama (where the Mobile-Pensacola market's other television stations maintain transmitters), providing an over-the-air MyNetworkTV affiliate in the Mobile area proper for the first time. On September 28, 2009, three stations owned by Ion Media Networks (WPXX-TV in Memphis, Tennessee and WEPX-TV, along with satellite station WPXU-TV, in the Greenville-New Bern-Washington, North Carolina market), due to an affiliation agreement made by their previous owners, dropped their MyNetworkTV affiliations to become full-time Ion Television owned-and-operated stations as they had been prior to September 2006 (the affiliation in the Greenville-New Bern market was taken over by NBC affiliate WITN-TV, which carries the network on a digital subchannel).
Memphis CW affiliate WLMT – which picked up MyNetworkTV for the sole purpose of carrying SmackDown, and due to the conversion into a programming service – elected to not carry the remainder of the network's schedule; eventually, after SmackDown moved to Syfy, WLMT began carrying the remainder of the MyNetworkTV lineup as a secondary affiliation (to the Retro Television Network) on its second digital subchannel.
Also in September 2009, Des Moines, Iowa affiliate KDMI disaffiliated from MyNetworkTV, replacing it with programming from the station's existing This TV affiliation. CW affiliate KCWI-TV picked up the local rights to SmackDown, and for nearly a year afterwards, aired it in a manner very similar to its scheduling on WLMT. Until October 3, 2011, when KDMI rejoined the service, Des Moines was the largest television market without a MyNetworkTV affiliate – either over-the-air or on cable (CBS affiliate KCCI took over the MyNetworkTV affiliation from KDMI in December 2014, carrying it as a primary affiliation on its second digital subchannel). On September 19, 2011, Cedar Rapids, Iowa affiliate KWKB dropped the service, while retaining its existing CW affiliation; ABC affiliate KCRG-TV later picked up MyNetworkTV for its second digital subchannel.
On February 10, 2014, St. Louis affiliate WRBU disaffiliated from MyNetworkTV, and converted into an Ion Television O&O, as a result of its sale to Ion Media Networks through Roberts Broadcasting's gradual sale of its television stations in order to raise money to pay off creditors in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings; this resulted in St. Louis temporarily displacing Spokane, Washington as the largest market without a MyNetworkTV affiliate until November 17, 2014, when CBS affiliate KMOV began carrying it on a digital subchannel.
Due to the availability of "instant duopoly" digital subchannels that are likely easily available on cable and satellite, and the overall lack of a need to settle for a secondary affiliation with shows aired in problematic time slots, both The CW and MyNetworkTV launched with far greater national coverage than that enjoyed by UPN and The WB when those networks started in January 1995. For several years, UPN had affiliation gaps in several of the top 30 markets, and by 2005 managed to reach only 86% of the population. This resulted in that network having to settle for secondary affiliations with stations that were already affiliated with other networks. In those markets, programs (such as Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise) were either shown out of their intended timeslots or not at all, leading to many viewer complaints. There are a handful of smaller markets, however, where MyNetworkTV holds a secondary affiliation – even on digital subchannels – because those markets are home to only a very small number of stations, and want to place more emphasis on programming from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox – which may have previously lacked affiliations in those markets – on those subchannels.
Nevertheless, because MyNetworkTV was announced after the formation of The CW and therefore got most of the "leftover" stations shut out by The CW, there are still availability issues in some markets. In addition, the network is mostly relegated to low-powered stations in some smaller markets, which do not have must-carry status. The arrival of WWE SmackDown to the network has made this issue the most visible, as wrestling fans complained about the lack of availability for MyNetworkTV in several markets that have CW affiliations. This was most evident in Lexington, Kentucky, where local SmackDown viewers actually protested that they could not watch the program because low-powered MyNetworkTV/Retro Television Network affiliate WBLU-LP lacked carriage on cable providers in the market, and as an Equity Media Holdings station with no local presence outside of engineering staff, had no communication with the station to speak of. That was solved shortly afterward when ABC affiliate WTVQ agreed to move its weather forecast service to digital subchannel 36.3 and convert the 36.2 subchannel into a MyNetworkTV affiliate, stripping WBLU of its affiliation in the process.
In the months leading up to MyNetworkTV's launch, several of its charter stations changed their on-air identities in preparation for joining the network, including all of the network's owned-and-operated stations under sister company Fox Television Stations. Affiliates also began to air network promotions featuring the theme, "Entertainment you can call your own." At first, many Fox-owned charter stations branded their soon-to-be MyNetworkTV O&Os with the "My" moniker (for example, WWOR-TV was branded as "My 9"). However, by the third week of October 2006, at least one station, Los Angeles O&O KCOP-TV, went to a two-column brand – verbally identifying as "MyNetworkTV, Channel 13," and using a logo combining that used by the network (on the left side) and the station's channel number, 13 (on the right); KCOP switched to the simpler "My 13" branding in May 2007.
While "My [channel #]" is the conventional branding style for MyNetworkTV's stations, some stations use the network's logo style with different names, such as WSTR-TV (which formerly branded as 'My 64", but revived its former brand "Star 64" in 2009). Especially after its shift in business model, some affiliates began to drop the "My" branding and logo in favor of local brands, such as KZJO (which re-branded from "myQ²", in reference to its sister station KCPQ "Q13 Fox", to "JoeTV"), WTTA (which switched its branding from "My TV Tampa Bay" to "Great 38" in September 2013), WPMY (which switched from "My Pittsburgh TV" to "22 the Point" in August 2015 and even changed their call sign to WPNT to fit the new branding), former affiliate KAUT-TV (initially "OK43", but later "Freedom 43" as part of its efforts to appeal to Oklahoma's military community), and various Nexstar Media Group-owned affiliates (which use similar brands derived from their call letters and channel numbers, such as KARZ-TV "Z42"). In 2017, Fox also began to re-brand some of its MyNetworkTV O&Os to closer associate them with their parent Fox stations, such as WDCA, which became "Fox 5 Plus", and KDFI, which became "Fox 4 More".
At the time plans for MyNetworkTV were announced, there was at least one station that was using a similar moniker. WZMY-TV in Derry, New Hampshire filed a trademark for the "MyTV" name on July 6, 2005, and for a short time there was speculation that the station would file a lawsuit against Fox for the use of "MyTV". However, on July 21, 2006, an e-mail was sent to WZMY's MyTV e-mail subscribers that the station would become the Boston area's MyNetworkTV affiliate. The official announcement came the following week.
MyNetworkTV does not display an on-screen logo bug in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, although its affiliates are inclined to display their own logo bug during the service's program lineup if they choose to incorporate it. However, on November 13, 2006, it began to incorporate a translucent logo of the program currently being aired on the bottom left side, but it discontinued this practice in March with the beginning of the third telenovela cycle.
MyNetwork lineup, which reaches 97% of U.S. TV households.