Random Thought

13 01 2010

After doing the Random Thought where I speculated on reasons for The CW’s mid-season scheduling, I realized it would probably be helpful to examine each of the current teen dramas and their chances of renewal.

As you’ll see below, there’s pros and cons for each show–ones that I believe are enough to warrant either renewal or cancellation. I honestly believe it could go either way. The bottom line, then, is we really just have to wait til May, when The CW officially announces their 2010-2011 schedule.

ONE TREE HILL (Average number of viewers this season: 2.5 million viewers, rounded up)

For: Of the three teen dramas, One Tree Hill has the highest ratings almost every time there’s new episodes. Cast and crew say they feel reinvigorated and have contracts for an eighth season. The network feels confident enough about it to use it as a launching pad for Life Unexpected.

Against: Fans remain split on the quality of this season. There has been a marginal drop in ratings and the show is going on eight years. At some point, someone’s going to say enough’s enough. The network could say the show has run its course and/or they want new blood. They may be more willing to say that this year, if space on the schedule is limited and an old show needs to go so they can bring in more new shows and/or focus on their younger ones. The cast and crew could say the show has run its course and/or they want to try new things. Creator/executive producer Mark Schwahn is working on a new pilot, Nashville, as well as another project for The CW.


GOSSIP GIRL (2.2 million viewers)

For: Buzz is as high as ever, with countless publications willing and ready to report on the shows and its stars. Cast and crew reportedly have contracts for a fourth season. An additional season increases the likelihood of a syndication deal and, of course, a better deal at that. The show has become a “signature” for The CW, one that they still promote heavily, which is an indication of their investment in it.

Against: Fans and critics alike have complained of a drop in quality this year. Ratings are dropping as well. Several cast members have shown an increasing interest in focusing their careers on film and music.


90210 (2.2 million viewers, rounded up)

For: Critics are responding better to this season than the last one. Critics, cast and network have said having Rebecca Sinclair take over has helped. Matt Lanter (Liam) has said he’s pretty sure they’ll get another season–and more. The cast and crew likely have contracts through a fourth season. Canceling it after two seasons would be the equivalent of The CW admitting they were wrong about the viability of a Beverly Hills 90210 spin-off and/or that they weren’t the ones capable of making the idea work. After they bragged about it so much before and during the initial launch, it would be a big embarrassment. A third season would (arguably) allow them to say they successfully created the next installment in the 90210 franchise, one that lasted for a respectable three years.

Against: The show was among the lowest-rated of 2009 for any broadcast network and critics consider it to be largely unsuccessful compared to the original.


Since this is a teen drama site, you’ll notice I didn’t include Life Unexpected, The Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place, Smallville and Supernatural. But for the sake of completeness, here’s my take on those: for LUX, it all depends on the ratings the first 13 episodes get and whether critics love the later episodes as much as they did the first few. Even if the ratings are low and critics turn negative, however, they may still want to give the show a proper season in hopes people will come around if given more time. The Vampire Diaries is a surefire renewal, as it has ratings, buzz and critical acclaim. Melrose Place is in a similar position to 90210 but with two differences: worse ratings and only 1 season. The CW could say the ratings gave no choice but to cancel but they could also renew, citing strengths (as they usually do) by spinning some of the numbers. And like with 90210, giving up too soon would be a sign of a defeat, that their grand plan–especially after Heather Locklear’s involvement–didn’t work out. Some question whether Smallville and Supernatural will get renewals since they’ve been on for quite some time already, but the network has remained positive about both shows and their futures. In two interviews, both less than a week old, Dawn Ostroff maintains she’s very pleased with Smallville this year but the exact future remains to be seen. She made similar comments about Supernatural.

The network technically has 10 spots to fill: two shows per night, Monday-Friday. Renewing all the shows mentioned above, plus America’s Next Top Model, makes 9. Most networks want to bring in more than one pilot. If The CW feels that way, they’ll either have to give a show–either new or old–a limited season or they’ll have to cancel one (if not more) of their current shows.

Fans, bloggers and critics will spend the next several months speculating on which shows will get renewed. There might be stronger indications as time goes by as well as some early announcements, but sometimes a decision in the bottom of the ninth, so to speak, can change everything (as it did with The CW and 7th Heaven/Everwood in 2006). Nothing is 100 percent official until the upfront in May, when the network presents its new schedule to advertisers.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m hedging my bets so I’m not wrong. I truly won’t be surprised if any of the teen dramas are renewed or canceled. I wish I could give you a better indication of what will be. The truth is, if you told me Gossip Girl was canceled for the reasons I listed above, I’d say it makes perfect sense. Likewise, if you told me it was renewed for the reasons I listed above, that would make perfect sense to me, too. The same goes for One Tree Hill and 90210. These are the things countless executives at the network will be going back and forth on for the next few months. They’re also privy to information we’re not–such as the exact costs of making each show, the profits they’re making and the quality of the pilot options as well as the quality of the plans the current crews have pitched to them for next season.

In the meantime, if you want a show to get renewed, I encourage you to watch it when it airs–not online and not via DVR. You can also contact The CW via its Web site to let them know what you want to see next season. Many times a strong fan campaign has made all the difference.

Hang in there. We’ve still got a ways to go.

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11 responses

13 01 2010
CandyMaize

I’m with you … at this point really hard to tell what the CW will decide on several of their shows, and the decisions they make will likely be due to reasons not privy to us.

Was nice that you took the time to mention the other CW shows too šŸ™‚

13 01 2010
teendramawhore

Thank you for weighing in, CandyMaize!

I’d like to add two addendums (addenda?) to my post:

1. The youth demographic is highly coveted by advertisers. It is in the network’s best interest, then, to have shows that court or cater to those demos. Advertisers=revenue for the network. This is an additional pro for all three shows. I believe it is also worth noting, however, that ratings studies have shown (and The CW has admitted) that the network isn’t necessarily successful right now in attracting that youth demo. The median age of Gossip Girl viewers, for instance, is 27. For the network as a whole, it’s even older. These numbers do have to be presented to advertisers, I believe, and can be considered a con.

2. While the network may not be attracting the youth demo in real time–that is, when the episodes actually air–they are getting a large amount via DVR. The ratings I gave above are based on Nielsen’s next-day system. They release early figures the next morning and then finalized ones in the afternoon (I work with the finalized ones). But they also have another system that takes into account DVR viewing in a 7-day period. All three shows–90210, in particular–see their ratings rise when you adjust for DVR viewership. While the other broadcast networks care significantly more about the next-day ratings, The CW puts particular emphasis on nontraditional modes of watching. All three shows, then, particularly 90210, have this working in their favor.

13 01 2010
Kate

So do DVR ratings count too? I hope so, because that’s how I watch them.

I took your advice and sent an email to the CW, showing support for the teen dramas. I hope they don’t cancel One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl.

13 01 2010
Cullen

Just wanted to point out (which you sort of addressed in your addendums/addenda) that a show’s renewal chances completely hinge on the advertiser friendly 18-49 demo rating not on total viewers (although the CW focuses on Woman 18-34). Based on those ratings and assuming Dawn Ostroff isn’t fired then 90210, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and The Vampire Diaries will all be back next year while Melrose Place will be canceled and Supernatural/Smallville will most likely be back (although neither meshes with the networks target demo). This is all summarized quite effectively here: http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/01/12/melrose-place-still-dead-if-anybody-still-cares/38558

Also I think your overstating the importance of critical reception, while networks like acclaimed shows the ratings always come first.

14 01 2010
teendramawhore

Kate: Yes, The CW will likely take into account DVR ratings.

Cullen: Thank you for your comment. I linked to the TVByTheNumbers chart a few days ago. I think it is a mistake to think this is only a numbers game. Can it come down to the ratings, particularly the demos? Absolutely. But there are also other factors involved, as I mentioned above, and occassionally it comes down to one of those as well. And, occassionally, it is a combination. I still (respectfully) stand by what I said in my post & addenda. But there is definitely room here for other opinions! =)

15 01 2010
iDegrassia

I really don’t understand the whole ratings thing,,,like how they figure out the ages of who is watching..I know i should like an idiot, but i can never figure that out. And 90210 was low-rated?! I really like the show. Of course, people will often compare it to the original and say it was much better, etc. But the fact of the matter is both shows are just about kids in glitzy BH with tons of drama…I took it upon myself to watch BH90210 (which my mom loved) and I actually liked it and watch it all the time. Something that could contribute to low-ratings is lack of promotion–I never see advertisements for CW shows unless they’re on CW–that doesn’t make any sense.

I mean, it’s just a teen drama show, like the other teen dramas which get high viewers, so I dont get why this one gets low ratings. Some shows are really popular and even trend on twitter when a new episode is shows, like the ones on ABC Family, which usually has programming that doesn’t succeed and is really corny, like The Secret Life (which is just boring and stupid, and the word ‘sex’ is mentioned in EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE) and Make It Or Break It (which is actually pretty cool and stands out from other teen dramas).

The stars of 90210, particularly Matt Lanter act as if the show is….idk, doing well? He says there will definitely be another season or whatever, which im happy about but still confuses me. Anyway, I hope the 90210 ratings get better or something, because it’s the main reason i even watch CW (besides OTH and TVD lol).

PS: Ugh. Enough with Melrose Place! That show was a trainwreck and even with all that constant advertising before the premiere, with the promos and stuff, didn’t help….cancel it, already!!!

15 01 2010
teendramawhore

Thanks for your comment, iDegrassia. To be completely honest, the ratings system is very hard to explain and I don’t quite understand the inner-workings of it myself. But Nielsen and other companies, through various studies, are indeed able to figure what ages are watching the show, just like they can figure out how many people are watching. To boil it down a lot, they take a sample of the population and study them, then they apply those results, in proportion, to the entire population–if that makes any sense.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism about The CW not promoting the shows on-air except for on their own network, but Gossip Girl and 90210 have had many ad campaigns in various cities and publications. Many OTH fans complain that OTH doesn’t get any promotion because the show is so much older and not a priority.

But none of the teen dramas on The CW get high ratings–2.5 million isn’t anywhere near high. On most broadcast networks, if a primetime show routinely gets less than 5 million (and that’s being generous), it will likely be canceled. But on The CW, they don’t expect ratings anywhere near that so shows can usually survive with 2 or 3 million. And just to give some perspective, on Monday, The Secret Life of the American Teenager had more than 4 million viewers, which is significantly better than what the 3 teen dramas on The CW usually do.

Yes, Matt Lanter does act like the show is doing well. All stars will. It’s not their job to be concerned with the numbers but it is their job to keep up appearances and make everything seem like it’s amazing. Maybe the show’s ratings will increase–who knows.

20 01 2010
Susan

I think everything but Melrose Place will come back next year. However, there will be some schedule changes. I think Supernatural is going to move to Fridays with Smallville and they’ll use Vampire Diaries to launch another show. They’ll also use ANTM to launch another show as well on Wednesdays. Gossip Girl will move to Tuesdays behind 90210. Mondays are interesting because I think they could pair OTH with Life Unexpected permanently or keep OTH’s 8th Season for midseason OR keep Life Unexpected’s second season until midseason. TV Seasons are much different these days. Many shows don’t even debut until midseason like 24, Lost, Chuck etc.

There’s no way they’re going to cancel Gossip Girl anytime soon. The show is still their highest rated in the target demo (last I checked) and episodes always hit number 1 on Itunes. The cast is too popular and the show is still highly promoted. And I really think they’re gonna keep Life Unexpected. I know it’s early, but it’s helping give the network a more well-round feeling like the old WB.

I could also see The CW adopting ABC Family’s practices of splitting seasons into parts. They pretty much doing that this year with GG, 90210 and Melrose Place because they want to air the last remaining episodes in a row. This could free up time slots for new shows. Either way, I think the CW is going to continue to play it safe and only order 2 or 3 new pilots…maybe 4. But they need to be careful because OTH and Smallville most likely have one more season left in them. Supernatural…they could possibly squeeze a Season 7 out of, but probably not. So, they need to find suitable successors or they’re going to run into a bunch of problems in another year. They need a strong development slate.

Possible 2010-2011 Schedule for The CW:

Monday: One Tree Hill/Life Unexpected
Tuesday: 90210/Gossip Girl
Wednesday: ANTM/New Drama
Thursday: Vampire Diaries/New Drama
Friday: Smallville/Supernatural

Midseason: 1 or 2 new dramas

20 01 2010
teendramawhore

Susan, what a great analysis! Thank you! I think you made some excellent points and you certainly covered the spectrum of shows. I am eager to see if your predictions are accurate! I think they very well may be…

26 01 2010
Sam

When deciding on renewing shows, it’s all based on ratings and your demos because that is what advertisers use when they decide where they put their money. The best demographic is women 18-34 because they are the hardest demo to reach. All that information comes from Nielsen. And all that information is pretty inaccurate. And that’s where the CW gets ripped off. How Nielsen decides their ratings is based on a very very small portion of the entire tv audience. People are paid by Nielsen to install a box (or fill out surveys) that monitors what they are watching, and also who is watching that program at a certain time. This is how they get their demographics. How do you get to be paid by Nielsen? You have to first agree and second you have to live where they need demographic ratings. So that small percentage says what “everyone” is watching.

Now say you want to save your show. You say to the fans, make sure you tune in. Well unless you are monitored by Nielsens you aren’t going to make a difference.

So with the CW their core demographics are obviously teens. And the problem with teens is one, they don’t rule the tv in the house. The parents usually have control, so then they DVR it. And DVR numbers aren’t as important to advertisers as Next day numbers. This is why the CW sees such a big increase in audience when the DVR numbers are finally taken in. Also teens are more likely to go online to watch shows. There is no way to monitor online shows. Even if you watch online you get 1/4 the commercials you would get if you watched it live. Advertisers need data to make decisions on where to invest, and the only people who provide that data is Nielsens.

So your favorite shows may have way more viewers then what they say. But there is no way to show it. And you can say why doesn’t every tv have a box, well that would intrude on your right to privacy.
This link goes into better detail:
http://tvbythenumbers.com/numbers-102

As for the CW lines up, well we all know Melrose is gone, Vampire Diaries is safe. Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill both depend on what their key actors want to do. I heard Gossip Girl cast still has one season on their contract but that if many actors like Leighton, Chase and Blake want to do other things and want let out, CW might let them because ratings haven’t been stellar. One Tree Hill, it’s rating are still solid, but how much longer does Sophia Bush really want to stay there? I think that Life Unexpected if it stays above a 1.8 will be renewed for a second season. We will def see all 13 episodes of season one. It’s the cheapest produced show and is helping the CW’s image. It might be mid-season again though if they keep both GG and OTH.

Supernatural and Smallville will be picked up if negotiations with lead actors work out, I don’t see any of them wanting to leave and the ratings are solid. ANTM is safe of course. 9021 well I think that depends how strong they think their upcoming projects are, and from what I have read, they should keep it. I can’t see Dawn Ostroff being there much longer.

I think Susans Line-up is pretty accurate if they keep all those shows.

26 01 2010
teendramawhore

Sam, thanks for such a thorough comment. I completely agree with you about the fallacies of the current Nielsen system and how it effects The CW in particular.

While it may look like The CW is marketing to teens, the demo they present to advertisers is actually females ages 18-34. This is usually a surprise to people because their programs seem youth-oriented, but, as I mentioned above, the median age of a Gossip Girl viewer (according to The CW) is 27. I’m not sure about their other shows, though.

The CW loves buzz and that’s why the numbers don’t tell a complete picture, like they may for other networks. It’s why I find predicting their schedule, particularly this year, so difficult. But I think you (and Susan) presented some great guesses.

Also, yes, the Gossip Girl cast does have another year–if not more–on their contract and the One Tree Hill cast is already signed for a season 8.

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