UPN's 'America's Next Top Model 3' to premiere on September 22 in a new 8PM timeslot
By Wade Paulsen, 07/22/2004
When a fledgling network has a breakout hit series one year, should it change the broadcast time of that show the next year?
UPN says "yes." The Viacom-owned sister network to CBS has moved its signature hit, America's Next Top Model, from Wednesdays at 9 PM to Wednesdays at 8 PM starting this fall. On September 22, Top Model 3 will debut; after its season ends, Top Model 4 will start in the winter in the same time slot.
The move was made so that UPN could provide the strongest possible lead-in to its acclaimed new drama series Kevin Hill, starring Taye Diggs as an attorney who has to raise the 10-month-old daughter of his recenty-deceased cousin. UPN entertainment president Dawn Ostroff said, "By moving Top Model, we're working on another big goal, scoring big on Wednesday. Next season, we have our No. 1 show, Top Model, leading into Kevin Hill, making us more competitive on Wednesday than ever before."
While moving the female-skewing Top Model out of the Wednesday 9PM time period versus ABC's equally female-skewing The Bachelor (which is also premiering September 22) is likely to help Top Model's ratings, it remains to be seen whether the positive benefits of airing Kevin Hill after Top Model will be more than offset by the fact that the female-seeking freshman show will have to air head-to-head with The Bachelor, one of ABC's few hits and a program which has also traditionally drawn strong female demographics.
We note, though, that UPN is setting up Wednesdays at 8 as its "reality hour." This summer, that time slot will be filled by Amish in the City; and between the two series of Top Model, the slot will be occupied by The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott, featuring 13 aspiring performers touring with the well-known hip-hop star in the hopes of following in Missy's footsteps.
Ostroff and Viacom co-COO Les Moonves have used every opportunity to point out that the success of America's Next Top Model had finally provided UPN with an identity. Said Moonves at the Television Critics Association press tour, "There were many skeptics who doubted this network had a future." Now, Moonves announced a hope (not yet a plan) to move UPN from a five-night network to a six-night or even seven-night network by 2006.
It should also be noted that Moonves, who is also head of CBS, has shied away from allowing CBS to be too heavily associated with the hit reality series that turned CBS's fortunes around in the summer of 2000, Survivor. Instead, he has positioned CBS as the network of crime-related procedural dramas, such as the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced CSI franchise (which became a smash hit only after it moved the fledgling original CSI series toThursdays, where it benefited from having Survivor 2 as a lead-in -- a strategy that he is trying to replicate with Kevin Hill), Without a Trace and Cold Case.
Nice to know that Moonves actually was not oblivious to the crucial importance of Survivor in rebuilding CBS. Now we'll see if the same strategy will work twice.