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MNT Scores With Anna Nicole Saga

MyNetwork TV finally has something to boast about.

MNT’s first foray into reality with Anna Nicole: A Centerfold Exposed, produced by Access Hollywood, earned a 1.5 rating/2 share in metered markets, a new high for the mini-network after changing its programming schedule this week.

The one-hour special garnered a 1.8 rating on the MNT station in New York, an 80% improvement over telenovela-inspired dramas in February.

The improvement was more dramatic in Los Angeles and Chicago, with ratings soaring 240% over February to 1.7.

MNT said 96% of the overnight markets held or improved over the February drama ratings, with 44 of the 48 markets up and two holding.

Quarter hour ratings held steady and, in nine LPM markets, the special improved household performance by 150%. In the demos, women 18-49 rose 300% and men 18-49 leaped 200% versus February.

The results are good news for new MNT President Greg Meidel, who put together a new strategy and series schedule highlighted by a martial arts fight league (starting Monday) and movies (debuting tonight) within a few weeks of arriving in late January.

Competing against American Idol, a one-hour preview special of IFL Battleground that preceded Anna Nicole earned a 1 share, flat with February’s performance. But in an encouraging sign, MNT reported that more than half of the overnight markets held or improved, with 40% gaining from February, and that it resonated with the men who found it.

As anticipated, Meidel has ended all scripted development and reemphasized MNT’s commitment to reality fare.

The final two previously produced serialized dramas, American Heiress and Saints & Sinners, will now air only once a week starting next Tuesday and Wednesday.

MNT, however, has not indicated whether it will stick with the new telenovelas for the remainder of this season if their ratings under-perform like their predecessors.