The CW’s astoundingly regressive move to pull “Gossip Girl” off the Internet probably wasn’t much help in its “season premiere.”
Nielsen ratings show that the drama about Manhattan preppies pulled in 2.4 million viewers (1.3 rating/4 share) in its post-strike return to original episodes in a new time slot.
That means “Gossip Girl” was up about 8% over its pre-strike average, numbers that would be in line with a highly promoted original episode in a premium time slot. Compared with the overall season average, the numbers are even off a tad (2.4 million on Monday vs. 2.5 million average). Compared with the show’s debut back in the fall, that’s off 1 million viewers.
The CW’s spastic attempt to drive young viewers from the Internet to the old medium of television indicates the level of desperation at the “fifth network.” Don’t fret too much, “Gossip Girl,” this is the network whose magazine series “CW Now” actually posted a 0.2/00 in late January. Ratings for the Green Network are off something like 20% since last season.
The online video crowd now will have to be satisfied with some two-minute recaps and some production footage. Downloads of “Gossip Girl” remain for sale on the iTunes Store, where it is a hot property.
“This is an experiment to see if we can help move the needle,” CW spokesman Paul McGuire told the Los Angeles Times in a story about the end to “Gossip Girl” video streaming.
Of online video, CW entertainment boss Dawn Ostroff groused in January, “We don’t make the kind of money we make when it’s on the air.”
One irony here is that the show’s characters are totally plugged in to new media, spreading their vicious gossip via mobile text and the Web. Verizon Wireless was a major promo sponsor. And to promote the return of new episode, the network used … you guessed it, Internet ads.