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The CW, WWE Ending 'Friday Night SmackDown'

2/08/2008 07:00:00 PM Eastern

WWE Friday Night SmackDown is leaving The CW's primetime ring. After a decade on The CW and its precursor, UPN, World Wrestling Entertainment's franchise will leave the network at the end of the 2007-08 season in September.

Announcing the news late Thursday, WWE said The CW's "exclusive negotiation period" ended Jan. 31.

SmackDown is The CW's second-most-viewed show, next to America's Next Top Model, but it appeals to a much older audience than The CW's target 18-34 demo.

"We have been contacted and have been in negotiations with other networks," the wrestling body added in a statement, although it didn't say which networks. "We are grateful to [CBS chief] Les Moonves, [The CW chief] Dawn Ostroff and their entire organization for bringing WWE SmackDown to millions of viewers for so many years."

SmackDown reliably buoyed viewership for UPN and continued to deliver ratings when the CBS-owned network merged with Warner Bros.' The WB to create The CW. But the high-testosterone hit stood apart from The CW's more female-targeted programs like Gossip Girl and America's Next Top Model.

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