UPN Network to shutdown, merging with WB to form CW Network

UPN and WB announced today that are folding and merging into one network called CW in September. CBS, which owns UPN, and Warner Brothers, which owns WB, are taking 50% ownership rights in the new venture. CW will operate seven nights a week in prime time, with weeknight programming from 8-10 p.m., which means that half of the current WB and UPN programming will be cut in September.

While the announcement was shocking and is a major story in the wrestling world as Smackdown! airs on UPN, it doesn't look like Smackdown! will be dropped.

The early speculation is Smackdown! would be one of the shows from UPN retained on the new network. Smackdown! was listed along with America's Next Top Model, Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars and Girlfriends as the UPN shows figured to make the cut.

However, with the current deal with UPN expiring in September, it makes it far more difficult for WWE to have any leverage in trying to negotiate a better deal as the only other network which would have had any interest in Smackdown! would have been WB.