How Live+7 Ratings Saved “90210”

Word of early renewals came down the pipeline this week as the CW delivered golden tickets to shows including “90210,” “Smallville,” “Gossip Girl” and “America’s Next Top Model.”   Kudos to the casts and crews. But instead of thanking CW exec Dawn Ostroff, these shows should consider giving a big hug to an advertiser’s greatest […]

Last Updated: March 8, 2009 @ 6:22 PM

Word of early renewals came down the pipeline this week as the CW delivered golden tickets to shows including “90210,” “Smallville,” “Gossip Girl” and “America’s Next Top Model.”

 

Kudos to the casts and crews. But instead of thanking CW exec Dawn Ostroff, these shows should consider giving a big hug to an advertiser’s greatest nemesis — the DVR.

 

After “90210’s” much anticipated debut late last year, which ranked as the highest-rated premiere in the CW’s history (as short lived as that might be), the following week things became grim.

 

Tanked might be a more accurate description. Ratings were down 30 percent for the second episode. Ouch. While traditional ratings have continued to remain on the low side, earlier this month it saw a slight increase amongst females …  and myself.

 

However, an interesting development occurred shortly after the “90210″ premiere, as the CW began reporting that their last hope (rumor had it that if the show flopped, so would the network) posted the biggest increase of any scripted series on television when factoring in “Live+7” ratings.

 

For those not in the know, Live+7 takes into account how many people watched a program on DVR within seven days of its original airing. CW’s other popular show, “America’s Next Top Model,” also scored well in the same category, getting the biggest increases of any network series.

 

In fact,

 

I recently spent the day analyzing an internal report from a major network regarding new media analysis (don’t ask), and it got me thinking about the increase of DVR use across America. Nearly 30 percent of all U.S. households report having DVR units, according to Nielsen.

 

With DVR usage on the rise, and shows proving successful when counting such ratings, it is imperative that network execs start using those numbers when selling advertising space.

 

Obviously, ad firms don’t want to be bothered with numbers counting people that skip over their 30-second propaganda messages, but times have changed.

 

If broadcast television wishes to remain relevant as cable channels like HBO and Showtime rack up all of the Emmys and Golden Globes, then they must fully acknowledge the viewing habits of their loyal customers.

 

Otherwise, Hulu and other new media services will more rapidly erode the power of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and, yes, the CW.

 

James Sims got his start in news while serving as a radio and television reporter in the U.S. Air Force. After a few years in South Korea he returned to Los Angeles where he worked at "Entertainment Tonight" and then the Hollywood Reporter. Now in New York covering Broadway, he continues to observe the entertainment industry with a critical yet watchful eye.