2:16 pm - 02/03/2013

The CW: Still Doing Whatever It Is That It Does

The network of magical thinking is still alive and, yeah, alive.

My great fascination with The CW continues. Last summer I wrote about how it seemed inconceivable to still be alive, and I'm as astonished now as then. At that time, about the only show on the network that I liked was Nikita, but then I favorably reviewed Arrow because if felt right for the brand (and the show is doing pretty well, or by CW standards, extraordinarily well). This season I like The Carrie Diaries. It doesn't mean I'll watch all three of those regularly, but they're good shows for the brand (and so is The Vampire Diaries, which the CW is likely to spin off in hopes of branching out). Those are all good things.

But as a business entity, The CW is still a mystery. (See the linked stories for the crazy details). Most of its series flat-line. Those that work -- meaning they register with Nielsen and do just enough business to validate the CW's niche programming -- are "hits" that still rank below other network's "not quite hits."

The CW is still alive because -- well I don't really know why. But the working theory as presented by the CW is that it attracts a very young target audience, especially among women, even though the median age of the network is 41. (I joked today on Twitter that if you say that out loud, they send Arrow to kill you.) The CW has, for as long as I can remember, whined that the Nielsens don't adequately measure its 18-34 audience. I can't remember one TCA, where network presidents come here to tout their wares and also explain their failures (and successes), that the CW hasn't blamed faulty metrics for its barely beating pulse.

Now, you should know that everyone pretty much agrees that the Nielsen ratings are flawed in some way. Every broadcast network and cable channel has a gripe. But they are all playing within that system because to date there's not a better solution. If everyone is playing under the same guidelines -- including the CW -- then at some point one would have to surmise that the CW's continued game of crying foul would be just that: crying.

On Sunday, Mark Pedowitz, president of the CW, was the last such title-holder to come before us. As expected, he had some interesting comments. The network tried some summer programming for the first time and one of its series was called Breaking Pointe. "It did not receive the overnight ratings or the C3s that we hoped, but it had a very, very strong digital streaming presence," Pedowitz said. (C3s are basically a measurement of people who watched the show within 75 hours of its airing.) The CW believes it does extremely well with its shows being streamed -- and that may be true. There may come a time when the CW turns into Hulu. Who knows.

In explaining some failures (Emily Owens, High School Doctor) and some upcoming projects (the spin-off to Vampire Diaries, perhaps a Wonder Woman series, maybe some more DC Comics things etc. dream on, etc.), Pedowitz mentioned wanting L.A. Complex, a Canadian-financed series, to come back (it's a series that barely made a blip in the Nielsens and wasn't picked up by said Canadian bankrollers). Don't ask me why the CW wanted yet another series no one was watching (and by no one I don't mean the fraction of you who did, I mean the rest of the measurable country).

At one point Pedowitz was asked about whether Beauty and the Beast would be picked up for a second season. He gloated that it was a People's Choice fan favorite and big with some kind of E! Online measurement that means nothing. He said that in the fourth quarter, with total viewers, B&B was on pace with Secret Circle, a show that did so poorly the CW canceled it. When pressed about why he was bullish on B&B, Pedowitz said the show had growth potential. Listen, every show on the CW has growth potential. What they need to do, and fast, is reach that potential. And viewers.

I know that the CW thinks I pick on it. That I don't like its shows. But that's not true. I'm just completely fascinated about its magical thinking. I think that any network that comes before the TCA to to tout or defend itself, should do so with tangible evidence based on the metrics everybody else uses. All I've heard from the CW for years is -- what's the word? -- bullshit.

The CW believes that billions of people in the 18-34 audience are watching its shows via Hulu or video on demand or through CWTV.com -- all of these things that Nielsen isn't tracking, according to Pedowitz. So, in essence, the problem is with the Nielsen ratings not with the CW. The CW has, for years -- before Pedowitz -- believed this same line of thinking. Sometimes it that skewed logic was even more tenuous than untracked viewers watching on Hulu -- it was a certain feeling, something in the zeitgeist that told CW presidents people were watching.

Not much has changed. That's why I find it fascinating to hear the excuses. The level of self-delusion is off the charts. And by charts I mean charts in my mind that can't be tracked or used as any kind of reliable metric.


I think everyone and their grandmother hates the Nielsen system, but if not Nielsen then what and how?  And I don't know why, but I keep holding out hope that the CW will shape up and start making actually good genre shows.  I think it has the potential to succeed in the genre market.
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abbiemills 3rd-Feb-2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Taking iTunes/Google Play sales, streaming online through the official site, and downloads/DVD sales into account would make a huge difference in things. Gossip Girl was huge in iTunes sales even when it was flopping in the actual ratings.

CW showrunners need to stop fucking pandering to fans and that is one of the biggest problems they need to fix, tbh, and they need to branch out a little more in their content which, granted, they've gotten better about over the years, but still. Aaaand they need to stop dragging shows out season after season while canceling other ones early on before they have a chance to really flourish.
gaybash 3rd-Feb-2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
That wouldn't make a difference in advertisers.
stoicana 3rd-Feb-2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
I was waiting for you, tbh, bb.

Taking iTunes/Google Play sales, streaming online through the official site, and downloads/DVD sales into account would make a huge difference in things.

I think the biggest factor in why they don't pay more attention to these other methods of viewership is because networks still rely so heavily on advertising, no? So until they alter advertising to conform to fucking 21st century forms of viewership, they'll still be stuck using an archaic ratings system.

CW showrunners need to stop fucking pandering to fans and that is one of the biggest problems they need to fix, tbh, and they need to branch out a little more in their content...

I need TVD to disappear so fucking badly...and Julie Plec too.

I feel like the CW can be stronger in genre programming. Most of the stuff they've tried that is typical teen fare (90210, Hart od Dixie, The Carrie Diaries, Emily Owens) seems to be flopping while the other things seem to have a better shot of sticking around.
insomniachobs 3rd-Feb-2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
IA. Especially with the pandering to fans part. Fans want a lot of things, you can't make them all happy all the time, and a lot of what they want would not make nearly as good TV as it does fanfic.
winniechili 3rd-Feb-2013 08:13 pm (UTC)
Networks only survive through their advertising dollars, and online advertising is a giant black hole of wasted money.
rainbowren 3rd-Feb-2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
Very well said, I agree on everything, but again networks need advertisers etc, and until they figure that out online. The Nielsen system is going to stay.
chilli_cheese 3rd-Feb-2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
I think Itunes is amazing because it's an alternative revenue source for networks when ratings aren't doing the job. I wish there were other ways for shows to take advantage of it, so that shows aren't entirely dependent on advertising.
prophecypro 3rd-Feb-2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
Arent they doing that already or what they're saying at the moment?
forgethissmile 3rd-Feb-2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
Oh God, the pandering to the fans. Can't watch the CW anymore for that exact reason (or like half the shows I used to love).
jackpeyton 4th-Feb-2013 09:08 am (UTC)
none of that translates into ad rev for commercials during the airing of the show, same with ppl who DVR it and watch it.
ashminda 3rd-Feb-2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
I really like Arrow.. mainly tuned in for Stephen Amell but it's pretty good.
mundodeamor 3rd-Feb-2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
Me too, it's pretty addictive. I had no idea it was successful, though? It doesn't seem that popular, at least on the internet.
winonaforever 3rd-Feb-2013 08:05 pm (UTC)
Arrow is the best rated show on the CW and only second to TVD in the key demo.
aflaminghalo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
Every time I hit the point of "Oh, this is getting too cheesy, I'm turning over" he takes his top off and does some pull ups and I forget what I was thinking.

The editors on this show are geniuses.
prophecypro 3rd-Feb-2013 08:45 pm (UTC)
Its sometimes good but Im seeing cracks in it already
gaybash 3rd-Feb-2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Hart of Dixie is their best show but I don't think there's a network where it'd really fit. Maybe Lifetime?
hewontgo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
generationxwing 4th-Feb-2013 07:53 am (UTC)
If it was on ABC, they'd just cancel it, but I can see it airing there.

My roommate judged me for watching HoD, but I was like "FUCK OFF. YOU'RE A BRONY."
scotchsour 4th-Feb-2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
ABC Family?
tangerinefriday 4th-Feb-2013 11:35 am (UTC)
HOD is really, really great if you think of it as a comedy, actually. It seriously reminds me of Three's A Company or something. I find it way funnier than most single camera things on rn tbh.
gpin2084 3rd-Feb-2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
I'm just baffled that Supernatural is still supposedly on the air. It stopped being good in the third season.
redaodai 3rd-Feb-2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Only because it still has good ratings (mind you, by CW standards) and a very loyal fanbase. Same goes for Smallville, which was on for ten seasons.
pseudovirus 3rd-Feb-2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
god, i can't believe smallville tarted like in middle school and ended my junior year of college

like that shit got terrible even before it moved from the WB to the CW
gpin2084 3rd-Feb-2013 07:53 pm (UTC)
Ten seasons?! I didn't know that.
blrocks 3rd-Feb-2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
I feel like Smallville was total shit mostly in the middle like with all the Lex/Lana and Lex going completely batshit and Zod being reincarnated stuff. The last 2 seasons actually managed to be a little compelling with Clark getting into his Superman persona.
forgethissmile 3rd-Feb-2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
I pretend that Smallville only had 3 seasons. Kind of like how Scrubs only had 6 seasons.
lacunaz 3rd-Feb-2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
Okay I nominate you to be the one to tell tumblr when it gets cancelled.
mundodeamor 3rd-Feb-2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
I loved it but I heard it wasn't good after S4, so I stopped watching it after the 3rd season.
blrocks 3rd-Feb-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
I stopped watching around season 4. The god/devil demons/angels shit got a little too heavy.
winniechili 3rd-Feb-2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
They're probably scared of what the fans will do to them if they cancel Supernatural, their lives are more important than whatever it takes to produce it.
kimit 3rd-Feb-2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
I still watch it and it's still my favorite show, but its been a long time since I genuinely loved it. Every now and then they will have a good episode, but I feel like it's few and far between these days.

Season 6 was awful. Just terrible. Season 7 made up for a little bit and I'm having a difficult time with this season, but I think it's getting better now, finally.

But I watch the show just for Sam and Dean and their relationship and the writers have done some serious damage to it/them over the last few years.
arainymist 3rd-Feb-2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who is scarily obsessed with Supernatural. I dread the day they cancel it because I'm afraid of how she'll react :/
rissaroo 3rd-Feb-2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
i'm watching spn for the first time and honestly i'm watching season 4 right now and i can already notice a huge shift in quality.

it's taking me forever to get through.
theafterimages 3rd-Feb-2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
I know Jared & Jensen have both done other projects while Supernatural's been going on, but if the show ended what would their careers be like?
harleenfrances 4th-Feb-2013 02:58 am (UTC)
ia, i stopped watching it when dean went to hell for the first time and just never finished it. my dad still loves it and watches it religiously tho lol.
violet_crumble9 4th-Feb-2013 04:08 am (UTC)
i think sn 6 and 7 sucked with a handful of good ones in between. but season 8 is good so far.
tangerinefriday 4th-Feb-2013 11:40 am (UTC)
Once a show hits a magic number of episodes, it can be sold into syndication. And when you've got a syndication deal, the buyer usually pays per episode. So if a show has passable enough ratings to make it to 100 ( I think even somethings these days only require 60 episodes) they will make fucking sure it gets there. After that, the more eps they make, the more money they can potentially get. So they are just taking the money and running. Supernatural already has a syndication deal and I'm pretty sure it won't be the only one. I guessing it will get canceled only when the syndicating entity no longer wants to pay for more produced eps to be bought.

In fact, with all the marveling about why CW shows keep getting renewed, I can't believe the syndication thing isn't brought up more.
fwee_prower 3rd-Feb-2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
with all these DVR boxes can't they find out from that?

stoicana 3rd-Feb-2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
They do have a measure of ratings from DVR numbers, but I think they don't pay as much attention to them (aka they don't factor into renewal/cancellation decisions) because advertisers don't care for them.

I think the argument is that people fast forward through the ads therefore it doesn't benefit the advertisers to care about people who only watch DVR content.
fwee_prower 3rd-Feb-2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
i mean the boxes EVERYONE has. you know time warner, cablevision, verizon, all those types of boxes and they can't figure it out?

i mean all of them get like updates from time to time, why isn't there a program.
julietislimited 3rd-Feb-2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
I still like Supernatural and I'm going to give Arrow a shot but I haven't really watched too much on the CW.
m3rr13 3rd-Feb-2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
I don't know much about the CW, but I hate what they did to Green Arrow.

I've been a fan most of my life and they just ruined it.

idk, it makes me depressed.
wincest_dean 3rd-Feb-2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
is Arrow good? myy parents only told me how hot the lead guy is
hewontgo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
i dont like his body
his shirtless scenes do nothing to me
mundodeamor 3rd-Feb-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
I love it! I only heard of it when Colton left Teen Wolf (ugh) and joined Arrow, but it's pretty addictive.

And Stephen IS hot! I love the fitness scenes, so fierce:

theafterimages 3rd-Feb-2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
Wait, Colton joined Arrow?
blrocks 3rd-Feb-2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
I think he's fine as hell. Ruggedly hot, kind of reminds me Hoechlin tbh.
I stopped watching cause I got really busy, but the show was entertaining. Some characters are annoying as shit, tho.
hoechlingurl 3rd-Feb-2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
CW is a fucking mystery and I totally agree.

The network should not still be alive- all its shows are so below the grade and floppy its ridic.
prophecypro 3rd-Feb-2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
It operates like a cable channel and should have always been
daniellasaur_xo 3rd-Feb-2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
Even I feel like SPN has been dragged out way too long. As much as I love(d?) that show, I feel like ending it at season 5 would've been ideal. Seasons 6 and 7 were torturous to get through and 8 hasn't been terrible IMO, but I can't with the camera zooming in. That shit needs to stop.

Also, I'm still bitter over Emily Owens, that show is amazing, I hope it comes out on DVD but I doubt it will :(
redaodai 3rd-Feb-2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
Emily Owens was good. The premise was tired, but it fleshed out and moved a bit past the "back in high school..." cliche. Most people just wrote it off after the first episode, which I didn't think was very good admittedly. I kind of wish the show had worsened since its official cancellation. That way I wouldn't be bitter over its ending this week. Nope, it actually got much better.
fasdsr2 3rd-Feb-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
it really has. this last episode was SO good. definitely one of the best, if not the best. omg, i had a dream that i was watching the finaleof emily owens, and it literally ended at the part where emily opened the door. no reveal of who it was--it just faded to black. i was sf pissed off.
daniellasaur_xo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I always give shows a few episodes before I write them off. Pilots are usually rocky at first. But you're right, EO definitely improved. They should just keep it as a summer show or something. I'd even be happy with short 13-ep seasons tbh. As long as they didn't run it into the ground a la SPN, Smallville, GG, etc...
hewontgo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
Emily Owens would have been great on NBC
stoicana 3rd-Feb-2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
This guy's snark is giving me life, tbh.
jef_martel 4th-Feb-2013 12:33 am (UTC)
i know right?
Also i'm in love with you Josh Jackson icon.
ragechill 3rd-Feb-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
Kill the whole network and play re-runs of actual decent shows on the channel instead. The re-runs will probably get better ratings tbh.
jef_martel 4th-Feb-2013 12:34 am (UTC)
how i would love for them to air reruns of Buffy <3 I wouldn't be able to watch but still.
hisjulliet 3rd-Feb-2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
I love Supernatural, but the show has been going on for too long, it should have ended 3 seasons ago. I would really like if they make 8 the last season. I don't think the writers can come up with any more sustainable decent plots at this point.
daniellasaur_xo 3rd-Feb-2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
My friend told me a while ago that they were trying to make it last 10 seasons. I don't know how true that is but I'm not sure I can sit through two more seasons of Sam and Dean's bitch fits. I miss when they liked each other and didn't do stupid shit to each other.
hisjulliet 3rd-Feb-2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
I heard that the show is supposed to go on to season 10 as well. Man I really hope this is the last season (or it ends at season 9 at least). They really fucked up Sam this time. The only reason they had Sam not look for Dean was for the brothers to fight over something again. I was really hoping Amelia wasn't real and Sam made up his relationship with her due to his growing insanity because I hated the thought of Sam not even trying to look for his brother...hell Sam even said it himself (I think it was in season 5) that running away was mistake, and that he was wrong every time he did run away from anything.

I'm enjoying this season so far (for the most part), but the writers sure as hell suck at character development.

Edited at 2013-02-03 10:58 pm (UTC)
tryxkittie 3rd-Feb-2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
the story logically ended at season 5. everything after that is just fanfic imo
redaodai 3rd-Feb-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm watching Angel right now (Gunn's first episode to be precise). RIP The WB.
bostongirl2003 3rd-Feb-2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
I still lmao that the WB and UPN used to have an average of like 3m viewers each (granted this was before the real switch to online viewing) but after the merger 3m is a series high for almost any of these shows.

stoicana 3rd-Feb-2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
Saying this makes me feel like such an idiot, but I actually want BatB to have a chance to succeed. Like with better writing and stories and not so much idiotic logic and painfully faux science.

What with the love story being so front and centre, it's exactly the opposite of the sort of show I normally watch, but there you have it.

But female lead! Diverse cast!
hewontgo 3rd-Feb-2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
BatB is doing well in the ratings, The carrie diaries and 90210 are doing way worst
stoicana 3rd-Feb-2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
It's doing okay in the ratings. I think it got 1.7 viewers last episode which is fine for the CW but it does leave it on the fence in terms of renewal.

I still maintain that with better writing, it could actually be doing better but I know other people have commented that it doesn't need better writing on the CW...just more love triangles and romance.

But I'm not here for that, tbh.
chilli_cheese 3rd-Feb-2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
omg I just finished catching up on BatB and I'm kinda obsessed (embarrassing tbh). Like, I know it's not that great, but I think the chemistry is great between the cast (it is very diverse for network tv). They just need to do better on the story of the week because it's too throwaway for me to take seriously.
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