Experimental ‘CW Now’ Canceled

Feb 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

“CW Now,” the show launched at the beginning of the season without commercials, is no more.
The magazine-style show was designed to be supported by segments into which marketing messages were integrated. Even before upfront presentations were completed last spring, The CW was able to sign up media buying agency MediaVest, whose clients agreed to sponsor the show’s entire season.
“CW Now” never generated much of an audience. Last week’s show was near the bottom of the broadcast network ratings with a 0.5 household rating and 694,000 total viewers.
After the last two completed epsidoes of “CW Now” air this month, it will be replaced by reruns of “America’s Next Top Model” in March.
Brent Poer, senior VP at MediaVest, said given the show’s 7 p.m. Sunday time slot, the agency never expected “CW Now” to be a ratings winner. Instead the show was looked at as an experiment in a new form of advertising at a time when clients worry that traditional commercials are losing their effectiveness as more viewers fast-forward through them using digital video recorders.
At first the show ran commercial-free. Beginning this quarter, the agency began adding a limited number of commercials and measured viewer reaction to the combinaton of integrated messages and spots.
“We pretty much were able to complete what we thought was the proper test bed for this project,” said Mr. Poer. “We were able to accomplish what we needed to across the 21 weeks.”
During that period, the agency created 63 integrations, or three a week. And it learned a number of important lessons, including “that integrated messaging is effective when done properly,” Mr. Poer said
Based on research from IAG Research and Knowledge Networks, MediaVest found that integrated messaging was a good way to introduce a new product and to show viewers how to use a new product. Integrating messaging also was able to drive viewers to retail for Wal-Mart, which used the show to promote that it would be carrying the new version of the video game Halo when it launched.
“Even with a small but very loyal fan base, we were able to change perceptions,” Mr. Poer said.
The program also drove viewers to the Internet, creating traffic as well as sales, he said.
When MediaVest added commercials to “CW Now” last month, it found that the target audience of 18- to 34-year-old viewers was more receptive to the commercial-free version.
“With this demo, they actually appreciated the lack of traditional ad pods,” Mr. Poer said. “They did realize there was advertising-supported messaging in the show. Branded content was palatable.”
Mr. Poer said what the agency learned from “CW Now” forms “the very beginning to a road map for the agency and how we approach our clients with a branded strategy.” It will help the agency find the best place for clients to use branded content in their marketing mix, he added.
It was unclear whether the show’s low ratings or cancellation before the end of the season would cost The CW advertising revenues.
“While you always wish the ratings were higher, we are proud of ‘CW Now’ and how it improved every week from a creative standpoint,” said John Maatta, chief operating officer of The CW, in a statement. “The program was a highly collaborative endeavor, and you can’t put a price tag on what we learned from this project.”
Mr. Maatta said the network would continue to look for innovative ways to work with advertisers.
“At a time when we all are looking for new business models and advertisers are looking for new ways to blend entertainment with commercial messaging, this was an opportunity that we had to seize, and one we view as a success on numerous levels,” he said.


  1. A pox on the CW for agreeing to schedule this thing. They got what they deserved (as did the sponsors) – the lowest rated series in broadcast television history.
    A news show that tried to skew young. Who are the marketing wizards that came up with this one?
    Let this be a cautionary tale – advertisers should stick to making soap, not TV shows(or glorified infomercials masquerading as TV shows).

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