The CW has complained for years that Nielsen ratings don't adequately gauge its young audience, and now the network is doing something about it — by developing its own measurement system.
At its upfront presentation to advertisers Thursday, CW also detailed plans for a new digital studio called CWD, which will be an online source of game shows, comedies, animation and personality-driven shows. One of its features will allow viewers to choose the outcome of a situation, choose-your-own adventure style. Viewers might decide whether a character kisses someone or storms out of the room, for example.
Talking to reporters after the upfront presentation, CW president Mark Pedowitz was secretive about details of the new measurement system, which will measure online views as well as how many people watch TV shows in real time.
He said the CW, which was born five years ago from a union of Warner Bros.' WB and CBS's UPN networks, was not working with any other networks on the system. The network targets viewers 18 to 34, a younger audience than the 18-to-49-year-olds sought by the four biggest broadcasters.
Asked it he hoped the new system would become an industry standard, Pedowitz said, "I think everybody has to make their own choice. I have no idea. … We may just be a very different network from everyone else."
As its ratings slipped this season, the CW noted that its audience is as comfortable with computer and tablet screens as television ones, and watches much of its programming online. It says that at any time 7 percent of its viewers watch shows on its website, CWTV.com.
It has also made streaming deals with Netflix and Hulu that have added to the network's financial stability and made it less reliant on ratings. The Netflix deal alone is expected to earn the CW up to $1 billion, providing a fresh revenue source beyond advertising.
Here are the projects planned for CWD, as described by the CW:
* “Gallery Girl,” a digital animated comedy series showcasing a savvy, cool and acerbic gallerina who gleefully takes down the celebrities who are brave enough to enter her SoHo art gallery. Armed with her deep knowledge of art and an equally deep reserve of sarcastic attitude towards her patrons, Gallery Girl is fearless towards whomever enters her wake. Executive produced by Brad Roth and Mark Feldstein of Stun Creative, an LA-based advertising agency/production company whose previous digital credits include The Single Life (DBG/Dentyne Ice), Jen & Barb Mom Life (Specific Media), The Writers Room (Crackle/Sony) and Obamourage (Atom).
* “Fandemonium,” a combination of a traditional game show and a competition show, where The CW’s 50 million Facebook fans can compete for the title of The CW’s #1 fan, using social media platforms including Pinterest, GetGlue and Klout.
* Untitled Justine Ezarik Project, starring YouTube sensation Justine Ezarik (“iJustine”), who dispenses advice on her vlog to her followers that she can’t quite seem to get right for herself. Executive Producers are The Tannenbaum Co., Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, The Collective and Richie Keen.
* “Stupid Hype" is a live-action series created by and starring “Hart of Dixie” star Wilson Bethel. Earlier this year Bethel wrote and produced Rachel "Thug Lite" Bilson’s online rap debut, “Call Me Doctor,” which went viral almost instantly after posting on Funny or Die. “Stupid Hype,” chronicles the (mis)adventures of a former breakdancer turned rising rap star in 1990. The series will feature original music from Bethel and his super-producer brother Charlie Bethel, aka Chuck Wild, and will be directed by Dugan O’Neal, twisted creative guru behind “Call Me Doctor.”