The United Paramount Network (UPN) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is owned as a joint venture between the Paramount Stations Group, a subsidiary of Viacom and Dorado Media, and by Lady Luck Enterprises.
Paramount formed the Paramount Stations Group when it purchased the assets of the TVX Broadcast Group, which owned several independent stations in major markets, in 1991. This was not unlike the purchase of the Metromedia stations by News Corporation five years earlier, which were used as the nuclei for Fox. In another parallel, 20th Century Fox (the News Corporation subsidiary behind the Fox network, which was spun off with the company's other entertainment assets to 21st Century Fox in July 2013), like Paramount, had long been a powerhouse in television syndication. All indicators suggested that Paramount was about to launch a network of its own.
On October 27, 1993, Paramount and Chris-Craft announced the formation of a new television network, later to be named the United Paramount Network, with initial plans to run two hours of programming in prime time for two nights per week. The new network would be owned by Chris-Craft Industries, while most of its shows were to be produced by Paramount Television. The "U" in UPN stood for Chris-Craft subsidiary United Television, which owned the network's two largest stations, Chris-Craft and Paramount/Viacom each owned independent stations in several large and mid-sized U.S. cities, and these stations formed the nuclei of the new network.
UPN launched on January 16, 1995, initially carrying programming only on Monday and Tuesday nights from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. The first telecast, the two-hour pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, was an auspiciously widely viewed start – being watched by 21.3 million viewers; however, Voyager would never achieve such viewership levels again, nor would any of the series debuting on UPN's second night of broadcasting survive the season. In contrast, The WB debuted one week earlier, on January 11, with four series – only one of which, Muscle, would not survive its first season. The first comedy series to debut on UPN were Platypus Man, starring Richard Jeni, and Pig Sty, with both shows airing Monday nights in the 9:00 p.m. hour; both received mixed reviews, and neither lasted long.
Other early UPN programs included the action series Nowhere Man, starring Bruce Greenwood and Marker, starring Richard Grieco; the comic western Legend starring Richard Dean Anderson; the science-fiction themed action series, The Sentinel; and Moesha, a sitcom starring Brandy Norwood. Of the network's early offerings, only Star Trek: Voyager, Moesha and The Sentinel would last longer than one season. As a result of the lack of viewership, UPN operated in a loss and had lost $800 million by 2000.
Within nearly two years of the network's launch, on December 8, 1996, Paramount/Viacom purchased a 50% stake in UPN from Chris-Craft for approximately $160 million. Like Fox had done nine years earlier, UPN started with a few nights of programming each week, with additional nights of primetime shows gradually being added over the course of several seasons. Because of this, UPN's affiliates were basically independent stations for all intents and purposes during the network's early years, with these stations airing either syndicated programs or movies during primetime on nights when the network did not provide programming. The first expansion of its primetime lineup came with the addition of programming on Wednesday nights in the 1996–97 season.
UPN completed its primetime expansion in the 1998–99 season, with Thursdays and Fridays as the last nights of programming to be added to the network's evening slate. That season saw the debut of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, a sitcom set during the Civil War that centered on a black English nobleman who becomes the valet to Abraham Lincoln; even before its debut, the series was riddled by controversy and protests from several African American activist groups (including the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, who picketed outside of Paramount Studios one week before the originally scheduled pilot episode) and some advertisers for its perceived lighthearted take on American slavery in the 19th century, protested against the premise of the series. Despite what publicity Desmond received from its controversial topicality, the series suffered from low ratings (with the first episode on October 5, 1998 placing 116th out of 125 programs aired that week on network television) and was cancelled after four episodes.
Viacom Era and Decline (2000-06)
Six months after the company announced its $36 billion merger with (the original) CBS Corporation, on February 4, 2000, Viacom exercised a contractual clause that would – within a 45-day grace period – force Chris-Craft to either buy Viacom out of UPN, or have the former sell its ownership stake in the network to Viacom. Three days later on February 8, Chris-Craft subsequently filed a lawsuit against Viacom in the New York Supreme Court to block the latter's merger with CBS, claiming that a pact signed between the two partners in 1997 had prevented either from owning "any interest, financial or otherwise" in "any competing network," including CBS, for a four-year period through January 2001. On March 17, New York Supreme Court judge Herman Cahn ruled against Chris-Craft's move for a permanent injunction to curtail the Viacom-CBS merger and the enforcement of Viacom's ultimatum.
Unable to find a suitable partner, on March 20, Chris-Craft allowed Viacom to buy out its 50% stake for $5 million, giving Viacom full control of the network. This gave UPN the rare distinction of being one of the only broadcast networks to not have had owned-and-operated stations (O&O) in the three largest media markets, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago (with The WB – the only network never to have had an O&O – being the only other, as minority owner Tribune Broadcasting-owned most of its charter affiliates including those in all three markets, while majority owner Time Warner instead owned certain affiliates of New Line Network, Warner Bros. Television Network, TNT, and TBS).
Viacom's purchase of CBS a few months before (which resulted in the merger of that network's owned-and-operated stations into Viacom's Paramount Stations Group unit. Viacom's purchase of CBS was said to be the "death knell" for the Federal Communications Commission's longtime ban on television station duopolies.
UPN reached a four-year affiliation agreement with Fox Television Stations' nine UPN affiliates on September 24, 2003.
In 2001, UPN entered into a public bidding war to acquire two series from The WB, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell, from producing studio 20th Century Fox Television. UPN eventually outbid The WB for the shows and aired them together on Tuesday nights until Roswell ended its run in 2002, Buffy ended its run the following year. New shows began to breathe life into the network starting in the fall of 2003 with America's Next Top Model, followed up by the fall 2004 premieres of the sitcom All of Us (which was produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) and the mystery series Veronica Mars, and then by the Chris Rock-produced and narrated sitcom Everybody Hates Chris in 2005.
On June 14, 2005, Viacom announced that it would be split into two companies due to declining performance of the company's stock; both the original Viacom – which was renamed CBS Corporation – and a new company that took the Viacom name would be controlled by the original Viacom's parent National Amusements (controlled by Sumner Redstone). UPN became part of CBS Corporation, while the new Viacom kept Paramount Pictures among other holdings each company acquired in the deal.
New life (2006-Present)
On January 24, 2006, after announcing the creation of The CW with Time Warner (owners of The WB) UPN parent CBS Corporation announced that they would give UPN back to Viacom. For about two years, UPN was in the red. Viacom (who was also running the Paramount Network), decided to sell 50% of the company. In 2009, Viacom began the Paramount Stations Group who bought 50% of the company, with the option to buy Viacom out in 10 years. As part of the agreement, Paramount Television agreed to produce some programming for UPN and help establish UPN Sports. Also, Paramount agreed to turn some of their affiliates to UPN affiliates, even if it meant adding UPN on their subchannels. The Paramount Stations Group has recently announced that the UPN News Network will begin broadcasting in December 2015, officially forming the new UPN News division with the help of Lady Luck Communications.
|7 AM||The Morning Show||Local Programming|
|9 AM||Local Programming|
|12 PM||Local Programming||UPN Kids Block|
|4 PM||Local Afternoon News||Local Programming|
|7 PM||Local Programming||Local Programming||Channel 99|
|7:30 PM||NYPD Mounted|
|8 PM||Chevy||Mix||The King of 7B||The Adversaries||Friday
|8:30 PM||Delores & Jermaine||Happy Life|
|9 PM||Family Fortune||Warrior||48 Hours 'Til Monday||The Advocate||Daytona Beach|
|9:30 PM||The 46 Percenters||The Perfect Stanley's|
|10 PM||Local Late Night News|
|12 AM||Local Programming|
|4:30 AM||Local Morning News|
UPN only airs two game shows as part of their daytime lineup: Temptation: The New Sale of the Century and The Weakest Link.
Unlike Kids' WB, UPN airs their children's programming weekday mornings from 7-9 AM (regardless of the time zone).Since 2006, UPN runs UPN Kids block weekday mornings and Sunday Afternoons.
|7-7:30 AM: X-Men
7:30-8 AM: Spider-Man
8-8:30 AM: Iron Man
8:30-9 AM: The Incredible Hulk
|12-12:30 PM: X-Men
12:30-1 PM: Spider-Man
1-1:30 PM: Iron Man
1:30-2 PM: The Incredible Hulk
2-2:30 PM: Fantastic Four
2:30-3 PM: Bettleborgs
3-3:30 PM: Breaker High
3:30-4 PM: Sweet Valley High
*Call Signs listed in yellow are O&O Stations
(Main Affiliation: NBC)
|KGNR||10.1||El Paso/Las Cruces||TX/NM||UPN|
(Main Affiliation: RDN)
|KNYP||32.1||New York||NY||UPN (O&O)|
|KPLA||25.1||Los Angeles||CA||UPN (O&O)|
|KUTA||9.1||Salt Lake City||UT||UPN|
(Main Affiliation: CBS)
If you wish to be an affiliate of UPN, feel free to do so and add your station to the table. Please remember that the table is in Alphabetical order.
- 1995-98: We're the Network, Baby!
- 1998-99: You'll find yourself on UPN
- 1999-2000: We're UPN! We're Looking Good!
- 2000-01: UPN, This is the place to be
- 2001-03: Get it on, UPN!
- 2002-05: Turn it up!
- 2003-05: UPN is easy on the eyes
- 2005-06: Great Moments on UPN (Celebrating 10 years of Broadcasting)
- 2006-07: Here for the Long Haul: UPN (Shortly after CBS gave control of UPN back to Viacom)
- 2007-10: Reach for the stars on UPN!
- 2010-12: UPN, All the Best
- 2012-14: This is UPN
- 2014-Present: You and me and UPN