Teenagers fucking does not a network make, or so the CW is grudgingly realizing as its ratings plummet to a point where even The Wall Street Journal can't help but scoop the world on its obituary. To wit: Nearly 28% of its target 18-34 demo has disappeared this season! Ratings are down 22% during May sweeps! Young viewers are flocking to the Web! "Writers strike" this, "skittish advertisers" that, co-owners CBS and WB are ready to drop their joint endeavor faster than a pair of Gossip Girl heroine Serena van der Woodsen's panties, etc. etc. In short: Divest all ye sinners, the end is nigh — as in "a year" nigh, give or take a month or two.
So what's the problem? What else, suggests CW boss Dawn Ostroff: Nielsen is miscalculating their ratings!
CW executives attribute the network's poor ratings performance not to a lack of viewers but to flaws in the system of measure. "Obviously, we would have liked to do better," Ms. Ostroff said this week. "Our young audience certainly knows how to get their content in different ways, and we have to figure out different ways to measure how they're getting it."
The CW has two strategies for this: work with Nielsen Media Research, the company that records ratings, to improve its methodology; and continue efforts to lure more and younger viewers to the network. Despite its stated demographic targets, the CW viewer's median age is 34, Ms. Ostroff says.
Nielsen says in a statement that although it believes its ratings "provide a fair picture of what younger viewers are watching," the audience is challenging to track. "We are working closely with the CW and all of our clients to continuously improve our measurement."
Sure, there may be a slight underreporting in Farmer Wants a Wife's .00000003 share, but it's a peccadillo in the scheme of things that mostly involves polishing its new 90210 turd and milking just one more DVD-ready season of Gossip Girl from increasingly skeptical advertisers. We foresee an all-black New York Magazine cover protesting the network's demise and its Best. (If Least Effectual.) Show. Ever. by this time next year — or at least we hope for one: It may be the only way anyone knows the CW died.