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The CW Shines Bright

No one, not even The CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff, expected the new network to win among its target demos on night one Sept. 20. But it finished first in adults 18-34 (3.2 rating/10 share) and women 18-34 (4.9/14) with the premiere of America’s Next Top Model, according to Nielsen’s live-plus-same-day results.

Top Model

scored its best premiere yet in adults 18-49 (2.6/7), while equaling previous adults 18-34, women 18-34 and women 18-49 (3.8/10) season debuts. It also delivered its second-most-watched premiere ever, with nearly 5.3 million viewers.

Significantly, the show bested the debut of its fifth cycle on UPN last fall by 7% in adults 18-34, 4% in women 18-34, 13% in adults 18-49 and 9% in women 18-49. And it notched increases in the high double digits over Wednesday debuts last fall on The WB.

Ostroff had expected much less since 71% of former UPN and WB viewers had to migrate to new affiliates, leaving CW without an effective on-air promotional platform over the summer.

So it had to rely on the passion of fans to seek out Top Model in markets where it switched from former UPN to WB affiliates. This week, The CW hopes fans of Gilmore Girls, which aired on The WB, will likewise find it on one-time UPN affiliates.

The CW relied on other marketing tactics, including an extensive online campaign to reach its younger viewers.

"It was a huge task," Ostroff says. "I really thought that it would take months. There was so much confusion. A lot of affiliates didn’t even officially switch over until [last] week."—Jim Benson