MRC takes Sunday shift at CW

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The CW is partnering with Media Rights Capital to program its Sunday primetime block next season.

The 7-10 p.m. block, kicking off in the fall, will feature four new shows — two comedies and two dramas. The CW is expected to unveil the series at its upfront presentation Tuesday, but one of them is said to be a romantic show from "Reba" executive producers Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel.

"This is a strategic move by the CW that will give viewers more original programming on Sunday nights than we have ever had," CW president Dawn Ostroff said. "MRC will bring a slate of high-quality entertainment to our air on the most competitive night on television, while we will focus our resources and efforts on strengthening our Monday-through-Friday schedule."

The programming will be tailored to the 18-49 demographic, expanding the CW's target 18-34 demo.

"There is a way to do a night of programming that targets a slightly larger demo to expand the network in terms of audience and revenue," MRC president of television Keith Samples said.

CW COO John Maatta pointed out that the network's median age is 33 and that shows like "Gossip Girl" often feature dual story lines that appeal to both demos.

"Sunday will be broader, but it's still within the wheelhouse of what we're trying to do," he said.

Maatta, who called the new block a "win" for affiliates, advertisers and viewers, said the idea came about after several conversations and meetings with MRC, including Samples, whom he has known since both worked at Lorimar in the 1980s.

This year, the CW eliminated its comedy department, raising questions as to the future of that genre on the network.

"We were looking for different ways to skin the cat in terms of comedy," Maatta said. "The genre is an art form under stress, but gold is where you find it. MRC was a place where we found an incredible producer of comedies that had the goods."

MRC's upcoming series include "Krod Mandoon" for Comedy Central, "The Goode Family" for ABC and "The Life and Times of Tim" for HBO.

It hasn't been determined whether the block will employ a traditional advertising model. The sides also declined to elaborate on the way the parties will divvy up production costs and ad revenue.

"It's a true partnership with the CW and Tribune," MRC co-CEO Modi Wiczyk said.

Added Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcasting, which owns 14 CW affiliates, "This is going to give us the opportunity to broaden the demographic." (partialdiff)
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