While the rumors of the CW's demise haven't quite been greatly exaggerated, they're looking a little premature this morning as news of the network's upfront success trickles out. Amid panic over plunging ratings and the looming ouster of boss Dawn Ostroff, the House of Gossip Girl apparently wrapped up its advance sales with as much as $370 million — about half of last year's numbers but not half-bad under the circumstances. 90210 apparently speaks for itself, after all:
With less inventory to leverage and no ratings story to speak of, CW was in a "great position to get fleeced," as one rival network ad sales exec observed. But advertisers bucked convention wisdom of just a month ago by committing to TV in a big way, even as overall marketing budgets are being curtailed, in many cases, as a hedge against the economic slowdown. ...
[G]eneral enthusiasm among buyers for CW's 2008-09 sked and its planned "90210" update allowed the netlet to command 8% rate increases for its Monday-Friday primetime spots. CW also still has a hand in selling the time for the Sunday block that [Media Rights Capital] will take over in September, so the net's final tally of ad revenue will increase when that money is eventually factored in.
Among the chief buyers, according to Variety: "Theatrical pics, retail outlets, wireless service providers and health and beauty products," whose executives' kindness will be rewarded for the first time ever by handwritten notes from Blake Lively herself, thanking them for their unflagging confidence in B-grade soap operas and the sheer cultural influence of the teenagers-fucking marketplace. Said a CW spokesman: "We are pleased." Aren't. We. All.
- CW scores cash in changing market [Variety]