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'''The CW''', owned jointly by Creator/{{CBS}} and Time Warner (hence the initials), is the result of the 2006 merger of Creator/TheWB and Creator/{{UPN}}. This is a network that is ''utterly'' about demographics. Specifically, that demographic which spends more time online than it does watching the tube. A pretty smooth move, since reaching young adults means giving them something to talk about on the Internet (hence their 200912 slogan "TV To Talk About.") Nearly all of The WB's and UPN's best-known programs -- ''GilmoreGirls'', ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', ''Series/AmericasNextTopModel'', ''EverybodyHatesChris'', ''OneTreeHill'', ''Series/VeronicaMars'' -- were carried over from those networks.

The network struggled during its first few years, to the point that the Tribune Company, owner of key affiliates like New York's WPIX and Los Angeles' KTLA, dropped CW branding on its CW stations; for example, WPIX (formerly [=CW11=]) has reverted to being PIX 11 (a modernization of the the name it carried back when it was an independent station), while Denver's KWGN (formerly [=CW2=]) developed a DorkAge of calling itself "[[TotallyRadical The Deuce]]" with a younger image for a couple years, including removing their older news personalities and attempted to make themselves hip (which made it worse; it's now branded as the comparably staid "Colorado's Own Channel 2"). On top of that, notable affiliate group Pappas Telecasting partly blamed The CW's crappy performance as a factor in its 2008 bankruptcy, which also forced the company to sell off quite of few stations (including some affiliated with other networks), with KCWK in Walla Walla, Washington even being shut down. Furthermore, an attempted expansion to Guam in 2009 ended with the affiliate (newborn low-power station KTBK) dead in less than two years.

Later, though, it finally found its footing, with original hits such as ''GossipGirl'', ''[[BeverlyHills90210 90210]]'' (a SequelSeries to the '90s Creator/{{Fox}} show), ''TheVampireDiaries'' and ''Series/{{Nikita}}'', in addition to a number of still-popular shows from the WB/UPN days (''Supernatural'', ''Top Model''), and for a while, the CW seemed to be more content aiming for the teen/young adult niche (which they do spectacularly well in) than going for broader appeal like the major networks[[note]]This is why the previous CW president got ''WWESmackDown'' off the network; even though it had the network's highest ratings by a wide margin, it wasn't translating into a ratings bump for the rest of its lineup due to wrestling's demographic being vastly different than, say, ''Gossip Girl'''s[[/note]] . However, new CW president Mark Pedowitz has stated that he sees the network as a general 18-34 network, citing the success of ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' with said demographic, followed by the early success of the revival of ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'' (in the middle of the doldrums of summer, no less), and while it still trails behind the Big Four, and even Spanish-language Creator/{{Univision}} at many points, The WB and UPN generally had much of the same ratings at their respective highs, and the network has been recovering from its torrid early years nicely. The network in fact doesn't really care about television {{ratings}} and has admitted as such, knowing many of their viewers catch their shows through the network's website, {{Creator/Hulu}} and {{Creator/Netflix}}, something that hurts reading the Nielsen chart (and as the general manager of a CW station; the current CEO of Tribune has all but begun to plan to likely remove the network on some of their major stations once the first ten-year affiliation agreement ends in 2016), but is planning for the probable future reality of television.

[[MoodWhiplash On a less pleasant note]], the launch of this network was the death knell for [[MinorityShowGhetto African-American-cast sitcoms]] on network television for the foreseeable future, as it removed UPN, the only broadcast network that was still committed to running those types of programming. When UPN merged with the WB, the latter network's sensibilities wound up dominating, causing black-focused shows like ''Series/EverybodyHatesChris'' and ''Series/TheGame'' to get lost in their new network home's identity. While ''The Game'' was lucky enough to make a ChannelHop to Creator/{{BET}} ([[LaserGuidedKarma and became that network's biggest show ever in the process]]), other shows of its ilk, such as ''Series/{{Girlfriends}}'' and ''All of Us'', saw themselves getting [[{{Cancellation}} bumped off]]. Also, the network's weekday "daytime" block where KidsWB used to be really isn't that, as over the years its been home to an ever declining quantity of talk shows, starting with Tyra Banks, then down to Dr. Drew, and currently a show hosted by radio host Bill Cunningham that may as well be JerrySpringer and Steve Wilkos without the fighting; all the affiliates take it, but grudgingly. The CW is also notable for boasting Creator/SabanBrands' {{Vortexx}}, the last SaturdayMorningCartoon block to air new shows.

Being a newer network, The CW has a few bugs to work out with carriage in some markets, albeit not to the extent of Creator/MyNetworkTV and IonTelevision. Several smaller markets (those in the bottom 100) go for a national feed called The CW Plus, which mixes syndicated shows with network programming. HD tends to depend on the market (some have HD, some don't), and many stations are cable-exclusive. It also has a substantial amount of stations that lie on digital subchannels, which again may or may not be HD, and most are CW Plus affiliates.
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