Despite Falling Audience Numbers, a Desirable Demo Keeps the CW in Business


In the three years since a torrid relationship between CBS/Paramount and Warner Bros. resulted in the birth of the fledgling television network the CW (not to mention the mercy kills of the WB and UPN), Vulture has lost count of the number of premature obits that we've read about the network's demise. "They're the lowest-rated major network!", some said. Others piped in with sound arguments like "With a major player like NBC cutting back on scripted shows, how can they possibly survive?" All good points, we suppose, but when you combine the (mildly) successful reboot of the 90210 franchise this year with the continued success of programs like Gossip Girl and America's Next Top Model, TV Week reports that all signs point to the network becoming the preferred destination for original programming aimed at women under 35. But just how valuable is that, exactly?

At first glance, it would appear that the CW could be a bit vulnerable these days. Their audience dipped by nearly 20 percent in the fourth quarter as compared to Q4 2007, and the network itself has yet to approach anything even remotely resembling profitability. However, thanks to the success of shows like Gossip Girl, they have been able to build their ratings in the advertiser-coveted demo of 18- to 34-year-old women by some 13 percent over the last year. Additionally, all of the shows that air on the CW make some serious coin for the studios behind them. Leading the charge is the new version of 90210, which has already generated some $30 million in profits for the CBS corporation (and that's without the show being released to DVD yet).

So what does this mean for viewers? Expect a Gossip Girl spinoff show (possibly to star Brittany Snow), a reboot of Melrose Place to launch next fall and, you got it, some sort of vampire-themed romance to hit the airwaves. Regarding the latter, does anyone know what Drew Barrymore's availability is these days?

The CW Lives! [TV Week]