When the Granite Broadcasting Corporation agreed to purchase the station after the ABC affiliation contract expired, KNTV switched its affiliation from ABC to The WB, becoming one of two affiliates of that network in the San Francisco Bay Area, alongside with then-sister station KBWB (now known as KOFY-TV), taking place of ABC O&O KGO-TV.
At 11:35 PM Pacific Standard Time on New Year's Eve 2001, KNTV became an NBC affiliate after a disagreement over reverse compensation to carry NBC programming led KRON-TV to end its affiliation with NBC after 52 years, becoming an independent station. Later, on April 30, Granite sold KNTV to NBC and used the NBC standardized look. NBC had just purchased Telemundo, which owns nearby station KSTS, and NBC wanted a duopoly in the Bay Area. The name "NBC 3" refers to the station's cable channel placement.