Thursday, March 02, 2006

An Interesting Follow Up to CW Network in Cleveland

The Beacon Journal's R.D. Heldenfels weighs in on local WB affiliate WBNX/55 snagging The CW affiliation for the Cleveland market.

As expected, WBNX chief Lou Spangler is thrilled. He cites three key factors in his station being able to get CW instead of Raycom's WUAB/43... strong ratings, lack of program preemption and an ongoing relationship with his network.

While Raycom certainly has a history with CBS and UPN, Spangler's got a point. If you're looking for a strong engine that will basically throw everything into your network, WBNX is your place. We've already talked about Channel 55's marketing savvy, and the fact that the station is the highest rated WB affiliate in the top 19 U.S. TV markets. And WBNX is already clearing WB network programming in all the slots that'll be used by The CW, which will adopt The WB's programming model.

Is the money still an issue? Spangler tells the Beacon that the station did indeed pony up money for the right to become "Cleveland's CW"...but also notes that WBNX had an existing compensation deal with The WB, calling the new terms "a fair deal".

There's one anonymous comment on our earlier item, claiming that WUAB had already been telling advertisers that it would be the CW affiliate in Cleveland when the dust settled. If that is true, that would belie the notion that WUAB wasn't interested in paying for the network.

But...money could still have been quite an issue...and Raycom/WUAB may not have been willing to match what WBNX offered to the CBS/Time Warner combo running the new "fifth network". Our gut tells us that WBNX probably didn't offer CW "the farm", as it were, but probably more than WUAB was willing to throw in. That, and the other factors, would appear to seal the deal from our perspective.

And this Media Daily News article by Wayne Friedman may say it all. Friedman says that the CW folks "avoided TV station group deals that, in theory, could give TV station groups a price break". He says that CW is looking to get a fixed compensation deal from its new affiliates, something that was apparently only set for top-15 market WB affiliates. WB stations below the top-15, according to Friedman, paid based on yearly performance. Friedman notes that with a fixed amount, stations could be left paying a high fee even if the station's performance suffers.

With CW apparently looking to go station-by-station instead of dealing with groups, that threw out the chance of a Raycom group-wide deal, and put WUAB and WBNX on equal footing... allowing WBNX to pull out all the stops.

You can also look at public statements by both WBNX's Spangler (in today's Beacon) and WUAB's Bill Applegate. Spangler didn't seem to have a problem at ALL with the money...he was already paying WB, and apparently got livable terms out of CW. Applegate, meanwhile, was concerned about reverse compensation back in late January, when he "wondered aloud" to the Beacon's Heldenfels if CW would be asking for it. (That answer came not long after.)

Applegate also thought WUAB could clear Saturday programming blocks that The CW had planned, but brought up another financial roadblock...the loss of income from an infomercial block WUAB airs on Saturday afternoons.

WUAB may have believed internally that it could work out the money issues and still become the CW affiliate, but WBNX's pitch was apparently quite aggressive, and we don't doubt they could have upped the ante...causing WUAB to look at their options again and decide they could still do better without "The CW". And Raycom's portfolio still includes one of the "big four" networks with WOIO/19's CBS affiliation, where WBNX is solo.

In the end, WBNX wanted it more. We don't think they just "outbid" Raycom/WUAB, as the other factors in WBNX's favor are very clear, but we feel WBNX had the winning hand that WUAB wasn't willing to try to outdo.

7 comments:

WIXYGrad said...

I can see it now. What a lead-in to the Ninety and Nine Club, WWE Friday night Smackdown. Ernie may get himself a new audience LOL.

MediaEar said...

What's now being heard thru the media industry grapevine is that once The CW decided to go with WBNX, it never allowed Raycom/WUAB to counter offer nor even asked them. The decision seemed to have been settled quickly and with WBNX's first proposal. This leads me to believe that it wasn't a compensation issue for Raycom, because in the end they didn't get to make a choice whether they'd be better or worse off as a CW affiliate. No counter offer or on going negotiations from The CW means they (The CW) made a very decisive choice. I must agree with OMW that WBNX seems to have wanted The CW more or at least The CW felt that way. It will be interesting to see what direction WUAB will now take. Will they go back to being an independent or try to affiliate with My Network TV?

Anonymous said...

Just take a look at the two station websites (WBNX vs. WUAB). You'll instantly see which group will better represent the new network. Talk about night and day...

Anonymous said...

Now that WUAB has been left out in the cold, will they go after my network tv or not. I think that they will get the new fox 2 network and will use the new network to take cheap shots at ch 8. Just rememeber how WOIO alwasys likes to have stories about ch 8 or its employees making nistakes. CH 43 will promote themselves as the new fox and they are the only ones that will have it in the fall.As for ch 55,they seem like the better fit but does the cw know what they are really dealing with? Sure the station has allowed in the past few years just about everything short of field trips to hell(opps they did that on both Buffy and Angel) to air on their station but do they really want to deal with Ernest Angley? Based on his overall track record,it makes you wonder what are they thinking. BTW is there a chance that Erine might allow foe either ch 3 or 5 to produce a 10'oclock news on the station now that they have the cw?

Anonymous said...

I agree that WBNX is the better fit for the new CW. As far as Angley's track record that's mentioned above, according to the NAB and other industry insiders from D.C., he's considered by broadcasters as one of the most trusted in the business. He was at the top of the list from a report out of D.C. that showed who's the most honest with contract fulfillment and paying their bills (he broadcasts his program on many stations throughout the world). So, I guess The CW lawyers would certainly know what to expect before making any deals. Besides, WBNX is managed as a secular station. Interestly, Angley's program used to air on ch. 43 years ago. Now 43 airs Pat Robertson, Tilton and others. I'd much rather listen to Angley's talented singers as to listen to Pat talk about world news and assassination plots.

Anonymous said...

but do they really want to deal with Ernest Angley? Based on his overall track record,it makes you wonder what are they thinking.

Which track record is that? The one where he took his limping crappy little Akron independent TV station and slowly made all the right moves to turn it in to a legitimate player in the Cleveland market and making money the whole time while doing it? (Of course that last part meant airing absolute crap and running mighty lean those first years.)

-doug

Anonymous said...

The difference in 43 and 55 is simple:

55 runs their outfit like an actual TV station.

43 is run merely as an extra promotional tool for 19.