After several years of struggling to program Sunday nights, sometimes in innovative ways, The CW may be on the verge of abandoning the night entirely.
According to media reports, The CW is working on a deal to turn Sunday nights over to affiliates, giving up a block that includes both the traditional 7-10 p.m. primetime block, but also the 5-7 p.m. hours.
"As we plan our 2009-10 fall launch, we are in talks with several of our top affiliate partners about a number of creative and mutually beneficial actions that will build on our growing record of success," a CW spokesman tells TV Week. "These discussions include an evolution of the strategy, which began this season, to focus The CW’s resources on Monday through Friday nights. As a result, we are now exploring the transition of Sunday night to our affiliates. This would provide a new revenue opportunity for the stations, while at the same time expanding upon our successful weekday strategy from this year, which resulted in ratings growth among our target audience."
In the 2007-08 season, The CW tried cross-branding advertorial programming like "Online Nation" and "CW Now" as lead-ins to original programming like the Africa-set drama "Aliens in America." Those shows yielded record-low ratings, prompting The CW to lease out its Sunday lineup to Media Rights Capital this past season. While some of those MRC shows, including "Even Money" and "Valentine," attracted at least respectable press, the ratings were, again, dismal. The CW exited the MRC deal and has most recently been filling Sunday nights with repeats of "Jericho" and random films from the MGM vault.
The CW is expected to maintain its core Monday-Friday lineup with an official schedule unveiled on Thursday, May 21.