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By Joe Flint
Sunday will no longer be a day of rest for the CW Network.
After abandoning original programming on Sunday nights nearly a decade ago, the CW Network -- a joint venture between CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. -- will return in the fall with fresh content.
The move comes as broadcast television networks are fighting audience fragmentation and rising content costs. With the exception of Comcast Corp.'s NBC, which has gotten a boost from the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, ratings are down year-over-year at the major broadcast networks.
The CW, which programs fewer prime time hours than its bigger rivals, is up slightly in total viewers compared to a year ago and is flat among adults 18 to 49 and 18 to 34, the demographics it targets. Its super-hero shows such as "The Flash," "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" and "Black Lightning" are cult hits as are its prime time soaps "Riverdale" and "Jane the Virgin."
The CW also has a long-term licensing deal for its shows with Netflix which has been instrumental in making the venture profitable for the parent companies, according to people familiar with the operation.
"Having more girth helps us as a multi-platform network" said CW Chief Executive Mark Pedowitz. "It's a win-win for everybody in the ecosystem."
The addition of two hours of Sunday programming will bring the number of hours of original content on the CW to 12 from Sunday through Friday, comparable to 21st Century Fox's Fox network.
While Fox programs all seven nights of the week, its Saturday lineup is typically heavy on sports, not entertainment fare, and starting this fall it will carry NFL football on Thursday nights as well. (21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-parent News Corp share common ownership.)
For CW co-parent Time Warner, the expansion will give its Warner Bros. television studio more shelf space at the network for its content.
With broadcast networks increasingly seeking to own as many of their shows as possible, it has become a tougher environment for independent studios such as Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Television to sell content.
Mr. Pedowitz said all of the CW's broadcast affiliates signed on to support the expansion including Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Nexstar Media Group Inc.
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 14, 2018 14:14 ET (19:14 GMT)
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