The network began operations on September 52006 with an initial affiliate lineup covering about 96 percent of the country, most of which are former WB and UPN affiliates. Its original primetime format consisted of hour-long soap operas (the first two being Desire and Fashion House) that aired on a five-nights-per-week, 13-week pattern.
After failing to attract viewership with that format, the network revamped its schedule in 2007 to a lineup aimed towards young males (a laSpike), with movies and mixed martial arts reducing telenovelas to one night per week. The network then dropped the telenovelas completely, along with mixed martial arts, to once again take a stab at original programming. A situation comedy called Under One Roof starring Flavor Flav premiered April 162008, followed by episodes of In Living Color, to make Wednesday comedy night.
MyNetworkTV is a sister network to the Fox network, but operates separately. Roger Ailes oversees the network as chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group (FTSG). Greg Meidel, the network's president, supervises its day-to-day operations, along with Fox executives Jack Abernethy, Dennis Swanson, and Bob Cook.
MyNetworkTV arose from the announcement of new The CW Television Network, which essentially merged The WB and UPN. As a result of several deals in the early part of the decade, Fox Television Stations Group owned several UPN affiliates. These included UPN's three largest affiliates: WWOR-TV in Secaucus, NJ (New York City), KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, and WPWR-TV in Chicago. Fox had bought most of them after acquiring most of the television holdings of Chris-Craft Industries, which founded UPN with Paramount Pictures (which was acquired by Viacom around the time of UPN's founding), while WPWR was bought in 2003 from Newsweb Corporation. Despite concerns about UPN's future at the time Fox purchased these three stations, UPN renewed its affiliation deals with the stations in 2003 for three years. That agreement's pending expiration--and some others'--in 2006 gave UPN parent CBS Corporation and The WB parent Warner Bros. the rare opportunity to merge their respective struggling networks, the result being The CW.
The CW included no Fox-owned stations; in fact, the coveted New York, Los Angeles and Chicago affiliations all went to stations owned by The WB's co-owner, Tribune Broadcasting. In response to the announcement, Fox promptly scrubbed all UPN references from its UPN affiliates' logos and promotions and stopped promoting UPN programs altogether. However, in all three cases (especially in the cases of Los Angeles and Chicago), the WB affiliate was the stronger station; CW executives were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates.
Media reports speculated that the Fox-owned UPN affiliates would all revert to being independent stations, or else form another network by uniting with the other UPN and The WB affiliates left out of The CW. Fox parent News Corp chose the latter route, and announced MyNetworkTV on February 22, less than a month after CBS and Warner Bros. announced The CW on January 24. News Corp may have chosen the name MyNetworkTV for synergistic means, as it also owns the popular networking website MySpace.com.
MyNetworkTV began operations on September 5, 2006 with premieres of its two initial series. Some affiliates unofficially began branding their stations on September 4, 2006--Labor Day--with supplied preview specials. Programming airs from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific time) Monday through Saturday.
At least nine affiliate stations present MNTV programs out of pattern:
KQCA in Sacramento, California airs the MNTV schedule from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is is due to Oprah airing in the 9 p.m. slot as their lead-in to their 10 p.m. newscast. KQCA is the second TV station in its time zone, and indeed in its market (after local CBS affiliate KOVR) to start airing network primetime shows an hour early.
KNVA in Austin, Texas and KWKB in Iowa City, Iowa, which are both dual affiliates of The CW and MNTV, air MNTV programming weeknights from 9 to 11 pm Central time, immediately following CW programming.
WNTZ in Alexandria, Louisiana, a secondary MNTV affiliate, airs MNTV programming Monday-Friday from 9 to 11 pm Central time, immediately following FOX programming, and its Saturday night programming on Sundays from 9 to 11 pm.
WNAC in Providence, Rhode Island, also a secondary affiliate, airs MNTV Monday-Friday from 11:30 pm to 1 am, with Saturday primetime running on early Sunday mornings from 1:30 to 3:30 am.
WGGB-DT2 in Springfield, Massachusetts, also a secondary affiliate, airs MNTV Monday-Friday from 11:35 p.m. to 1:35 a.m., with Saturday primetime runinng on early Sunday mornings from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Heavy local sports preemptions are a major problem for MyNetworkTV, though they have become less of an issue with the end of the network's telenovela strategy, where an airing of the pre-empted telenovela episode as soon as possible on the same day was required by default rather than the flexibility to push a show off to the weekend that came with UPN, WB, or CW affiliation. Affiliates often scheduled contractual "make goods" of its daily line between 3 and 6 a.m. Not only are these light viewing hours, but they air after Nielsen processes its preliminary morning network ratings.
The network's original format focused on the 18-to-49-year-old, English-speaking population with programing consisting exclusively of telenovelas, starting with Desire and Fashion House. Originally, each aired Monday to Friday in continuous cycles of thirteen-week seasons, with a one-hour recap of the week's shows airing on Saturdays; when one series ended, another unrelated series would begin the following week. The fifth and sixth series, American Heiress and Saints and Sinners, appeared one hour per week on Wednesdays before abruptly vanishing from the schedule. The MyNetworkTV serial lineup was broadcast in Australia as FOXTELENOVELA on the W. Channel. In Toronto, the first Desire/Fashion House cycle aired weekday afternoons on SUN TV, but the station decided not to air subsequent cycles for unknown reasons.
The announcement of the new network also stated that additional unscripted (i.e., "reality") and current-affairs programming were in development. These were:
In response to the telenovela lineup's poor ratings performance -- highlighted by a rating of 0.7% average households (see "Performance") -- reports surfaced that Fox executives planned a major revamp of the MyNetworkTV's programming, decreasing its reliance on telenovelas and adding new unscripted programming to the schedule such as reality shows, game shows (such as My GamesFever), movies, and sports, and a possible revisit to a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The deal was not signed with UFC, but rather with another mixed martial arts organization, the International Fight League, in conjunction with Fox Sports Net.
On February 1, 2007, Greg Meidel, who was named to the newly-created position of network president just 10 days earlier, confirmed the rumors and unveiled a dramatically revamped lineup. The intent of the shakeup was to increase viewer awareness of the network (and in turn viewership), as well as to satisfy local affiliates who were disappointed over the poor ratings performance. After March 7 (when Wicked Wicked Games and Watch Over Me finished their runs), telenovelas occupied only two nights of programming, airing in two-hour movie-style blocks rather than on multiple nights. The remainder of the schedule includes theatrical movies and the new IFL Battleground (originally titled Total Impact).
Specials and reality programming were also a part of the network's reformatting. The first two specials aired on March 7. Also, MyNetworkTV permanently reduced its telenovela programming to a single night per week, with American Heiress and Saints & Sinners airing one hour each on Wednesdays until their unexpected termination, due to incompatible flow with IFC Battleground from Monday to Tuesday as far as promotions. Also, the Thursday night movie block featured mostly action-adventure films, with Friday night featuring a mix of contemporary classic films, beginning June 5. 
A side effect of the new programming schedule was the loss of the network's claim that they were the only U.S. broadcast network to have their entire schedule available in HDTV, due to the IFL, some of the network's movies, and the additional programming being produced in 480istandard definition only.
In fall 2007, MyNetworkTV removed telenovelas and began to air reality and sports shows.
Returning comedies are in red; new comedies are in pink; returning reality shows are in yellow; new reality shows are in gold; sports entertainment programming is in purple; movies and specials are in green.
MyNetworkTV's debut was far from successful. Desire scored a 1.1 household rating/2 share; Fashion House went up to 1.3/2.
Fox had sold about half of its projections of $50 million in advance commercial sales.
As of March 7, 2007 MyNetworkTV is now included in Nielsen's daily "Television Index" reports, alongside the other networks, although they are still not part of the "fast nationals" that do feature the others. The first unscripted series, IFL Battleground, debuted with a 0.8 household rating, which is equal to the premiere rating of telenovela Wicked Wicked Games. Some viewers found Battleground's first episode violent and unsettling (its viewership dropped off during its 2nd hour), especially after promos suggested that competitors would be rendered unconscious and leave the ring on a stretcher, along with the constant sound of a flatline and calls to 911 (an American emergency number).
Despite such controversy, IFL Battleground and the Thursday and Friday movies helped increase overall ratings for MyNetworkTV. The reality format is slated to continue.
Last-minute changes to the Fall 2007 MyNetworkTV schedules included the title of "Divorce Wars" being changed to "Decision House" and the addition of "Celebrity Exposé" and "Control Room Presents" to the network's Monday line-up as well as a one-hour "IFL Battleground" followed by "NFL Total Access" on Saturdays.
The network's shift from telenovelas to reality shows and movies produced only a small bump in the ratings. It averaged only a .7 household rating during September 2007. MyNetworkTV continues to be the second lowest-rated major English-language broadcast network in the United States, ahead of only ION Television.
One positive outcome of the network's new format was that it was one of the two English-language commercial broadcast networks in the United States that was largely unaffected by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike; ION Television was the other. This is due to the fact that ION's schedule is composed of reruns of old shows and sponsored programming from outside producers rather than new scripted series and MyNetworkTV's schedule is composed of reality shows, entertainment news specials, comedy's & older programming and feature film repeats.
As of August 28, 2006 167 stations are affiliated with the new network, reaching approximately 106 million households and covering 96% of the US. This number includes six stations owned at the time by companies involved in the founding of the competing CW network: three owned by Tribune Broadcasting (located in Atlanta, Georgia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington), and three owned by CBS Corporation; however, Gannett purchased WATL, the Atlanta Tribune station, shortly after Fox confirmed it as a MyNetworkTV affiliate (Gannett's acquisition of WATL was finalized on August 7, 2006). It must be noted the Tribune sold out all interest in the WB in exchange for long term affiliation contracts with the CW network and has no interest at all anymore in The CW. CBS of course still is part owner.
One of the stations named in a April 26, 2006 announcement of MyNetworkTV affiliates was KNVA in Austin, Texas, which The CW had added to its list of confirmed affiliates a week previously. On May 1, 2006KWKB in Iowa City, Iowa, another previously-confirmed affiliate of The CW, signed on to carry MyNetworkTV. Currently, these two stations are the only in the US to be aligned with both new networks. KNVA will brand MyNetworkTV shows as "MyNetworkTV on The CW Austin". KWKB's website features station logos labeled as both "KWKB The CW" and "My KWKB". In May, WAWB in Huntsville, Alabama became an official My Network affiliate with the call letters WAMY.
On July 12, 2006, MNTV added WBFS in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (market #17), KTVD in Denver (market #18), WSYX in Columbus, Ohio (market #32), WTCN in West Palm Beach, Florida (market #38), WHP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (market #41), WUPL in New Orleans (market #43), and WAWS in Jacksonville, Florida (market #49). WBFS, WTCN, and WUPL are owned by CBS Corporation (with WUPL set to be sold to Belo), KTVD is owned by Gannett, WHP and WAWS are owned by Clear Channel, and WSYX is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. WSYX, WHP, and WAWS will carry MNTV on digital sub-channel stations. The deal with CBS to affiliate their non-CW stations with MNTV came as a surprise to everyone in the broadcasting industry, especially after the icy reception between CBS and News Corp that began after the CW and MNTV came into the picture, as they refused to allow WBFS, WUPL and Boston's WSBK to affiliate with MNTV as a response to pulling UPN names from the Fox-owned stations that were affiliated with UPN.
Mobile, Alabama is currently the largest city without a MyNetworkTV affiliate, although the city's DMA (which includes Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the rest of the Gulf Shores region) has Fort Walton Beach station WFGX as the area's station for the network. This is due to WFGX's weak analog signal, which is not available west of Pensacola, and the lack of a must-carry agreement with Mobile's Comcast system, most likely a renmant of the station's former status as a low-rated Jewelry TV station before the launch of MyNetworkTV.
Due to the availability of "instant duopoly" digital subchannels that are likely easily available on cable and satellite, and the overall lack of a need to settle for a secondary affiliation with shows aired in problematic timeslots, both The CW and MyNetworkTV launched with far greater national coverage than that enjoyed by UPN and The WB when they started in 1995. UPN for several years had gaps in the top 30 markets, and by 2005 managed to reach only 86% of the population. This resulted in secondary affiliations with stations carrying other networks. In those markets, programs were either shown out of their intended time-slots or not at all. Examples included Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise; when they were preempted, there were many viewer complaints.
At first, many Fox owned-and-operated stations branded local programming with the Mymoniker. An example is My 9 and My 9 News for WWOR-TV. However, by the third week in October, at least one station, KCOP, went to a two-column brand, with the network logo on the left side and the channel number, 13, on the right. The verbal identification became "MyNetworkTV channel 13." KCOP reverted back to the simpler "My 13" branding in May 2007.
The network has no digital on-screen graphic logo in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen on the SD feed (although the HD feed does), allowing their local stations to use their own logo instead. On November 13, the network added a translucent show logo to the bottom left side of the screen, but discontinued it in March with the beginning of the third telenovela cycle.
In the months before the network's launch, several stations changed their on-air identities to accommodate for the then-upcoming network, including all of the Fox Television Stations Group-owned stations. Affiliates also began to show promotions for the network featuring the theme of "Entertainment you can call your own."
At the time plans for MyNetworkTV were announced, there was at least one station that was using a similar moniker. WZMYDerry, New Hampshire filed a trademark for the "MyTV" name in the summer of 2005, and for a short time there was speculation the station might sue Fox for the use of "MyTV". However, on July 21, 2006, an e-mail was sent to WZMY's MyTV e-mail subscribers that the station would become the Boston area's MyNetworkTV affiliate. The official announcement came the following week.