Tag team split: CW, 'SmackDown'

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The tag team of World Wresting Entertainment's "SmackDown" and the CW will end Sept. 12.

The companies said they "have agreed to conclude our partnership," with WWE adding that the CW's exclusive negotiation period ended Jan. 31.

The WWE said negotiations already have begun with other networks but didn't offer specifics. Among the possibilities is News Corp.-owned MyNetworkTV, whose reality-heavy programming slate has many shows targeted more toward males. Many MyNet affiliates aired "SmackDown" when they affiliated with UPN.

Another option is NBC Universal, which already is in business with WWE through two of its cable channels: USA Network, which airs "WWE Raw," and Sci Fi Channel, which has "ECW."

Viacom's Spike TV also aired "Raw" for five years between its previous and current run on USA.

Meanwhile, the CW's move effectively will free up two hours on its primetime schedule for other programming. "SmackDown" had been a two-hour block on both the CW and its predecessor, UPN, for the past decade; it airs from 8-10 p.m. Fridays.

Somes have observed that "SmackDown" doesn't quite fit in with the network's overall schedule, which also includes such shows as "America's Next Top Model," "Smallville," "Gossip Girl" and "Beauty and the Geek."

While "SmackDown" is one of the CW's most-watched programs among total viewers, it fell behind several others in the network's target demo of adults 18-34. There also was little overlap between "SmackDown" viewers and those who watched other CW shows, according to ratings data.
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