Two years after CBS and Time Warner combined their second-tier networks UPN and WB into the youth-oriented CW to pool young viewers prized by advertisers, the network’s hopes of surviving are looking increasingly bleak, reports the WSJ. The network has lost about 28 per cent of its target audience of 18 to 34 year olds so far this season. Its ratings during this month’s “sweeps” period — the all-important measure upon which future advertising rates are set — are down about 22 per cent.
Advertisers eager to reach a young demographic initially clamoured to sign on to the CW, but have since cooled to the network. Part of the problem is that the CW’s young audience is most prone to spend leisure time on the Internet. Last winter’s Hollywood writers’ strike, which forced scripted shows off the air for three months, hastened the defection of viewers to the Web