NEW YORK - For the past three weeks, the upstart My Network TV has accomplished something that would have been considered unthinkable just two years ago.
The network, quickly cobbled together by a group of Fox-owned local stations after the 2006 merger of the WB and UPN into the new CW left abandoned stations with nothing to put on the air, has averaged more prime-time viewers than the CW.
My Network TV is the only one of the six English-speaking broadcast networks to grow this season. Its average of 1.76 million viewers each night is up 750,000 from last season, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Given an opportunity to gloat, My Network TV President Greg Meidel plays it cool.
"Do we get excited about beating the CW three weeks in a row? Sure," Meidel said. "I'd rather win than have a tie."
Professional wrestling is the turnaround's chief driver. The CW used to air World Wrestling Entertainment matches, but let them go because wrestling clashed with its strategy of appealing primarily to the young women who obsess over "Gossip Girl." My Network picked it up and the Friday night package is the network's most popular program of the week.
Even discounting the wrestling, My Network TV is up. Its executives abandoned the network's initial programming strategy - prime-time, English-language telenovelas - in favor of movies and nonfiction programming.
"We want to provide programming that's entertaining, that's fun to watch and easy to join in progress," Meidel said. *