In a TV season full of creative misfires and ratings declines, the single bright exception is The CW, right? 90210's a hit and the number of Gossip Girl viewers is finally starting to match the volume of the buzz, right? And as a result, The CW is no longer teetering on the brink of oblivion, right?
Um, not exactly. Last week, MyNetworkTV -- all but forgotten since it junked its all-telenovela format for movies, reality shows and trash sports -- zoomed past The CW in the Nielsen ratings for the first time ever. MyNetworkTV's average audience was 1.85 million, The CW's 1.4 million. And the contrast is even starker when you draw comparisons to the same week a year ago: MyNetworkTV is up 75 percent in viewers, The CW down 48 percent. Even in the 18-to-34 age group that The CW lusts for, the numbers favor MyNetworkTV: The CW down 33 percent from last year, MyNetworkTV up 100 percent.
The biggest single factor in the flip-flop has been the move of pro wrestling from The CW to MyNetworkTV. WWE Friday Night Smackdown had 3.8 million viewers last week on MyNetworkTV -- viewers that, last year, would have been watching the show on The CW. MyNetworkTV has also done surprisingly well with the series Magic's Secrets Finally Revealed, which pulled in 10 million viewers during November sweeps.
It's only one week, of course, and things could change. But I doubt if the suits at The CW's corporate parents, CBS and Warner Brothers, were too happy when they looked at those Nielsen numbers -- they didn't spend all that money to finish in sixth place. The CW, all reports to the contrary, is still on life support. And at MyNetworkTV, which has spent the last two seasons getting sand kicked in its face like the 98-pound weakling in those old body-building ads, they're suddenly feeling their biceps.