Just An Online Minute... Buzz Kill: CW Cancels 'Gossip Girl' Streams
Clearly, the network hopes that pulling the show from the Web will force people to watch it in real time. Although it's garnered tremendous buzz, the show, which returns to broadcast TV tonight, has never drawn high ratings.
While the network's move might sound like a logical way to increase demand for the broadcast version of the show, there's little evidence to suggest that online shows diminish demand for the real-time versions. But there's certainly been research showing the opposite, that making programs available on the Web increases exposure which, in turn, builds an audience for broadcast episodes.
The decision to pull "Gossip Girl," of all shows, is especially ironic considering that the characters on the show -- like many tweens and teens in its audience -- are themselves Web-centric. Gossip Girl is her/himself an anonymous blogger, who drives the plot forward by posting news tips and cellphone pictures sent in by other characters.
Regardless, Hollywood should know by now that it can't completely control how people will access media. If Web-savvy teens aren't able to watch the show during its air date, many will inevitably figure out how to download a pirated version -- and the CW will lose out on whatever ad revenue it was garnering from the free streams.