LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Vampires, fashion models, wannabe starlets and plucky teens make up some of the new female-friendly TV offerings from the niche CW network as it seeks to hone a brand aimed at young women.
Despite dropping 22 percent in total viewers in the 2008-09 TV season and with just two million average viewers per episode, the three-year-old joint venture between CBS Corp and Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros said on Tuesday it is becoming the go-to TV network for advertisers who want to reach the lucrative market of women aged 18-34.
"We have made a real name for ourselves with advertisers. They really want to reach this young audience," Dawn Ostroff, CW's entertainment president, told a meeting of television critics.
"They graduate high school, they get an apartment, they buy a car, they get engaged, they start up households and have children, so it's a very desirable demographic for advertisers," she said.
Ostroff said that in the last season, audiences on Monday nights -- when the popular teen series "Gossip Girl" was aired -- were up 77 percent among young women. "Gossip Girl" now has almost 1.5 million fans on social networking website Facebook, she said. Despite CW's overall fall in ratings, the network finished 2008-09 some 13 percent up in its target demographic.
Ostroff said young women see CW offerings as more than just another TV show.
"Our audience doesn't only watch CW for entertainment. It's almost like we're a magazine. They come to us to find trends in fashion, music and technology," Ostroff said.
New fall offerings beginning in September will include "The Vampire Diaries" a high-school drama based on the best-selling young adult books by L.J. Smith, a drama about the world of New York high fashion called "A Beautiful Life," a remake of the 1990s soap opera "Melrose Place" and "Life Unexpected" about the coming of age of a 15-year-old foster girl.
None of the new shows for the upcoming season are comedies or reality shows, reflecting the CW's emphasis on scripted drama which it says has allowed the network to puts its own distinctive stamp on its brand.
Ostroff said young women find comedies less engaging than the emotional pull of dramas, adding "I don't know if we can do sitcoms that are loud enough or noisy enough to get the same attention as scripted drama."
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Gary Hill