TCA: CW says net shortchanged by Nielsen

Pedowitz asserts network's young demo watching series via online portals

Networks that rely on 18-34 year-old viewers are being shortchanged by Nielsen. So said CW president Mark Pedowitz at the net’s Television Critics Assn. panel Sunday in Pasadena.

“Nielsen missed the boat in the 18-34 demo,” Pedowitz said. “They’re just not capturing them.”

His comments come just days after NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt noted during his exec sesh that the CW, a network expected to skew young, actually has a median age of 41.

Pedowitz joked with the journos in attendance that he would like to give Greenblatt a “shout out” for pointing out that the CW had broadened out its 18-34 demo, a strategy that has been in place at net since Pedowitz joined in 2011.

The problem with that median age data, Pedowitz declared, is the CW draws the 18-34 demo through means other than traditional broadcast. Young viewers are tuning into shows on their tablets, laptops and Xboxes instead of grabbing the remote, which has led to Nielsen ratings that do not completely reflect the numbers, or success, of any series on the CW.

In fact, according to Pedowitz, 20% of the CW’s total viewership comes from streaming and video-on-demand.

Flaws in Nielsen tracking demos are fodder for most network execs, but the problem is particularly relevant to the CW, with its tech savvy- young aud.

Gaining a more complete perspective of the CW’s total audience was a notable goal for the net in 2012, as it inked a measurement contract with Rentrak.

“We are still experimenting with the new ratings system,” Pedowitz said. “We’ve been doing a lot of work with Rentrak and TRA (TiVo Research and Analytics) and discovered, surprisingly with Rentrak, that all broadcast, in terms of measuring households, is higher than what Nielsen is reporting. We’re about 21% higher.”

Pedowitz has high hopes for “Sex and the City” prequel “The Carrie Diaries,” which premieres Monday. The CW is hoping the series draws a “bimodal” audience, one that includes fans of the original “Sex and the City” from the 1990s and early 2000s, along with a fresh generation of “SATC” fans who are discovering the franchise through “Carrie Diaries.”

Pedowitz believes “The Carrie Diaries” can pick up fans of “Gossip Girl,” the long-running series that ended late last year. The CW will air “The Carrie Diaries” in the same 9 p.m. timeslot.

“We hope ‘Carrie Diaries’ has just as long a run as ‘Gossip Girl’,” Pedowitz said of the series that ran for six seasons.

The CW is looking to continue its digital reach and will continue offering online-only programming. “Stupid Hype” debuted last year, and Pedowitz said the CW is developing a toon series for the Web with Misha Collins (“Supernatural”) and a live-action Web series with Wilson Bethel.

The CW’s reality slate, which showed tepid ratings performance in 2012, derives from a need for more original programming during summer. Strategy of just airing repeats of scripted fare hasn’t worked out and needs to be adjusted, according to Pedowitz.

“‘Breaking Pointe’ was well received,” Pedowitz said. “It did not deliver the overnight ratings, but it had a strong digital streaming presence. We look at all those things going forward. ‘Oh Sit!’ is just fun. It at times did better than our scripted programming. … We figured we’d give it a chance.”

Vet reality skein “America’s Next Top Model,” like other unscripted shows on the slate, is seen as a “utility play” for the CW as “original programming going from summer into fall.” Net plans to announce two more reality projects, in addition to recently announced “The Hunt” and “Perfect Score,” for this summer.

As for future scripted programming, the CW is eyeing about seven to eight pilots.

“The Selection” is still in contention, and a script for “Wunderland,” a modern take on “Alice in Wonderland,” is under consideration. The CW is also developing a spinoff of its hit drama “The Vampire Diaries” with Julie Plec based on the original vampire family in the show.

Plans for a “Battle Royale” adaptation have been canceled.