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Creator: UPN

The United Paramount Network (1995-2006) was a network launched by boat company Chris-Craft (through subsidiary station ownership group United Television, hence the "United" in "United Paramount Network"), and Viacom (whose Paramount Pictures is part of the namesake). Viacom would buy CC's share in 2000 (the same year Viacom merged with the original CBS Corporation), and CC's UPN stations were sold to Fox the next year; they later formed part of the nucleus of MyNetworkTV. During UPN's last nine months of operation it was owned by CBS Corporation (the new name for the original incarnation of Viacom when Viacom was split into two companies at the start of 2006). In September 2006, it merged with The WB to form The CW, which is owned half by CBS and half by Time Warner through Warner Bros. Entertainment.

UPN's most popular shows were its flagship shows, from Paramount's flagship franchise — Star Trek, in the form of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise (in fact, Voyager was UPN's first show period). The rest of UPN's lineup was of varying quality, but was largely made up of mostly forgettable comedies, action dramas, and various sci-fi shows that, for whatever reason or another, struggled or completely failed to catch on. It also didn't have the running start The WB had in having their network available via WGN's cable network nationally for four years, infamously refusing to have UPN programming carried on the WWOR cable signal and killing that channel in turn; many charter UPN affiliates jumped to The WB in 1998 because of UPN's botched launch and the clearer vision of that network.

The main exceptions were Roswell and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which the network (ironically, in hindsight) acquired from The WB. There were a good number of other interspersed successes, such as Veronica Mars, Moesha, The Parkers, Girlfriends and Everybody Hates Chris, the lattermost migrating over to The CW along with another hit, America's Next Top Model.

Most of UPN's comedies succeeded by targeting an audience that, for decades (with a few exceptions), had been largely ignored by the major networks — African-Americans. This led to it getting a reputation of being "the black people's channel" (complete with such backronyms as "the Urban People's Network"), frequently winning the ratings in that demographic even though, overall, it lagged far behind the "Big Four" broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox) for its entire existence. During the creation of The CW, there was a lot of concern that the merger would see the WB side "whitewash" the UPN side in order to attract the former network's more lucrative white, upper-middle class audience — fears that seemed to have been confirmed when shows like Everybody Hates Chris and The Game got canceled after just a few years of running on The CW.

The network had a children's block for its first four years called "UPN Kids", which was known for Marvel Comics cartoons, a cartoon based on Jumanji, and cheesy teencoms like Sweet Valley High and Breaker High (teencom on a Cool Boat). It was not well-remembered or well-rated, and was purposefully played down in order to not cannibalize the ratings of Viacom stablemate Nickelodeon. By 1999, UPN gave up and let Disney have the time for "One Too", the last gasp of The Disney Afternoon and an extension of One Saturday Morning which lasted until 2003.

UPN also had the broadcast rights for WWE's SmackDown! program up until the end. Despite several efforts to screw the show (including a move to the Friday Night Death Slot and bowing to pressure, as well as in turn applying pressure to the WWE itself, over the controversial Foreign Wrestling Heel Mohammad Hassan character after the London terrorist bombings in 2005), it remained one of the network's strongest-rated shows until the literal end (the network faded to black at the end of a Smackdown episode without any ceremony), and even made the transition to The CW (though it only lasted two years on the new network before moving to MyNetworkTV). UPN's final two weeks of programming weren't seen in markets where MyNetworkTV replaced UPN, as it launched nearly two weeks before The CW. (Smackdown, however, was picked up for those weeks on Tribune-owned WB stations that were transitioning to The CW.)

The end of UPN was much more tumultuous for that network than the WB's end, as Fox was angered by being completely left out of the CW mix and CBS deciding that their UPN and Tribune's WB stations would be the foundation of the network, with Fox stations in markets with Tribune and CBS-owned stations never considered at all. Within a few days of the merger announcement every Fox-owned UPN station removed all UPN branding and never showed a UPN promotion again during their local time. Other affiliates were disappointed by UPN deciding to air nothing but repeats and Smackdown after the end of the TV season (while The WB at least aired some burned off shows to keep the lights on) and left the network by Memorial Day 2006 or later. By the time of UPN's last night on the air the network was just a two-hour straight nightly feed of repeats without any logos or branding.
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PTENNetworksThe WB

alternative title(s): UPN
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