CW, Fox Attempt to Jump-Start Fall

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Fox and The CW came out of the starting gate early this season, giving them a wide-open field to strut much-hyped programming like “Fringe” and “90210.” But the advance launches were met with mixed ratings results.
The CW, which began its new season on Labor Day, has two full weeks of data to analyze—and so far, executives are breathing a sigh of relief.
Its new take on the Beverly Hills saga, “90210,” netted the network record highs for scripted programming, including a 4.3 rating/12 share premiere numbers in The CW’s key demo of women 18 to 34 years old, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The network also finished in first place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in its target demo for the past two weeks.
Even better news for the network is that those numbers grow considerably once time-shifting is factored in. Nielsen’s Early Live+7 data reveals increases in key demographics by nearly 50% during the network’s premiere week.
Also, The CW’s flagship show, “Gossip Girl,” managed to hold onto all of its adults 18-34 premiere audience in week two. Of some concern: The second week of “90210” dipped 31% in women 18-34. The show faced tougher competition in the form of the “Fringe” premiere and the season finale of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
Week 3 Is Key
For Shari Anne Brill, director of programming at media agency Carat, week three will be the tell-tale of where “90210” is heading. As “Teenager” moves off the schedule, its audience could start checking out “90210” (“Teenager” pulled in a staggering 9.1/30 in women 12 to 17 during its finale), while older viewers unimpressed with Fox’s “Fringe” also could migrate back to The CW.
One of the most hotly anticipated shows this season, Fox’s “Fringe,” debuted Tuesday to 9 million viewers and a 3.2 rating/9 share in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic.
“It isn’t a bad start,” Ms. Brill said. “I don’t even know what my expectations were.”
One Fox exec deemed the opening numbers “decent,” but for comparison, creator J.J. Abrams’ “Lost” bowed on ABC in 2004 to double what “Fringe” did.
Despite the middle-of-the-road start, “Fringe” can expect to receive a shot in the arm from Dr. Gregory House this week when “House” jumps in on Tuesday as its lead-in.
“It’s early [to judge]. Let’s see what happens in week two,” Ms. Brill said. After all, “House,” now one of Fox’s powerhouse programs, also launched to so-so numbers before gaining a following in a post-“American Idol” slot.
Also riding on “Fringe” is Fox’s Remote-Free TV initiative, the network’s attempt to put a premium on ad buys by offering half the usual time for advertising.
“What could really help ‘Fringe’ is the quality of the audience,” Ms. Brill said. She added that a smaller, quality audience could be very attractive to advertisers, and companies would be willing to pay a premium to air spots during “Fringe.”
Also debuting last week, Fox’s “Hole in the Wall” managed to keep itself afloat with a solid 3.5 rating/9 share among adults 18 to 49 and 7.2 million viewers during its Sept. 7 preview, bolstered by a football lead-in. Its official launch on Thursday, with two half-hour episodes, averaged a 2.3/7 and 5.4 million.

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