Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CW demo: Premiere week on the CDub


Well, the CW's crazy Wednesday to Tuesday premiere week has come to an end, and it was one of their ugliest yet. And that's saying something. Here are how the net's eight premieres did this "week" in "The CW Demo" of women 18-34.

The Vampire Diaries 2.9
America's Next Top Model 2.1
Hellcats (series premiere) 2.1
Gossip Girl 2.0
One Tree Hill 2.0
Nikita (series premiere) 1.8 
90210 1.8
Life Unexpected 1.4

Just giving you that list so you can see "the totem pole," which amounts to one show wayyy out ahead of the rest, one show pretty far below the rest, and six of the eight in a relatively close range.

But it isn't all about absolute numbers, it's also about comparisons. So here are the premieres and averages of yesteryear for the returnees.

SHOW 2010 preem 2009 preem %chg 09-'10 avg %chg
The Vampire Diaries 2.9 3.1 -6 2.67 +9
America's Next Top Model* 2.1 2.7 -22 2.65 -21
Gossip Girl 2 3.4 -41 2.45 -18
One Tree Hill 2 2.4 -17 2.19 -9
90210 1.8 2.5 -28 1.86 -3
Life Unexpected 1.4 2.5 -44 1.63 -14

 *- comparing to fall '09 premiere and fall '09 cycle average

So there were obviously three premieres that almost can't possibly be spun as positive, those being Top Model, Gossip Girl, and Life Unexpected. The GG and LUX drops from the year-ago premieres were extremely ugly, and those three shows were down double digits even from their season averages. Gossip Girl and Top Model both still look OK on the "totem pole," but they once aspired to something much greater than that. And LUX seems to be in serious trouble out of the gate. The obvious winner of the bunch was The Vampire Diaries, as the only one to exceed last season's average and the only one with less than even a 15% premiere-to-premiere decline. Oh yeah, and it's nearly a full point ahead of the rest of the field.  That counts too.

That leaves us with the other four, the two newbs and One Tree Hill and 90210. Getting the latter two out of the way, I'll just say this much: a lot of people are saying "They look pretty good compared to what happened to Gossip Girl!" And that's true. But by any standard other than comparing it to a show that dropped more than 40% year-to-year, they are not positive.

That leaves the newbies. Hellcats' 2.1 in the CDub demo along with its 3+ million total viewers exceeded a lot of expectations, mostly because I think a lot of people were buying into a "post-Top Model curse." A 2.1 is definitely a workable start, and way better than last fall's timeslot occupant The Beautiful Life: TBL, but it trails most of their series premieres from last season. The future will tell the tale.

And then there's Nikita, with which I think the network was using the ol' "cast a wide net" approach where they go after a broader audience and hope that enough of that audience is what they want. They got the wide net part right, as Nikita's 3.570 million total viewers was the largest audience of any premiere, but the 1.8 W18-34 is probably not as good as they'd hoped given Vampire Diaries' start. It may even be optimistic to say we're looking at another Supernatural-esque performer, and I'd guess the net was trying to improve the Thursday 9/8c hour on that show's 1.45 average from last year. Though the show wasn't the W18-34 draw I expected, it's still enough to say it's a "need more data" situation like Hellcats.

MY PREDIX
I am probably going to live to regret this (in fact, I am now), but I hope to keep updating how my 22 Hours predictions went.

SHOW 2010 preem my guess %diff
The Vampire Diaries 2.9 3 -3
America's Next Top Model 2.1 2.6 -19
Hellcats 2.1 2.3 -9
Gossip Girl 2 3 -33
One Tree Hill 2 1.9 +5
Nikita 1.8 2.7 -33
90210 1.8 2 -10
Life Unexpected 1.4 1.9 -26

Even though I mostly predicted double digit drops, bottom line is I was still WAY optimistic. I was probably one of the few to go high on Hellcats, but I maintain if its lead-in Top Model had gotten that extra half point, then Hellcats would've been right about where I guessed.

Oh yeah, and one more piece of perspective... while this network that targets W18-34 peaked with a 2.9 during its premiere week, MTV's Jersey Shore is now well into the 6's. Just sayin'...

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