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April 06, 2000

'Sabrina' joins the WB coven

Cynthia Littleton
The Hollywood Reporter

After four seasons on ABC, "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" is moving to the WB Network next season.

The WB has inked a two- season, 44-episode deal with Viacom Prods. for the sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart, although the agreement gives the WB an out option after one season if the show's performance falls short of predetermined ratings targets.

The WB swooped in on "Sabrina" when it became apparent that ABC was on the fence about renewing it for a fifth season as the network looks to revamp its Friday lineup. The show has been a steady performer on ABC's "TGIF" slate since 1996, but its numbers have slipped from an average 12.1 million viewers last season to about 10 million viewers this season.

By the WB's standards, however, "Sabrina" is a slam-dunk hit, and it's a good fit with its teen-oriented programming. "Sabrina" ranks No. 6 for the season among all primetime series with a 6.2 rating; a 25 share in the teen demo; and No. 1 with the WB's primary target of female teens (8.2/33).

The WB is expected to schedule "Sabrina" in the Friday 8 p.m. slot next season, where it will serve as an anchor for the night and a launching pad for new sitcoms in the 8:30 p.m. slot.

Of her show's pending switch to the WB, Hart quipped, "I can't wait to kiss the frog."

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