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Tactics pay off -- in viewers

The CW used timing and suspense to build buzz and an audience for the '90210' launch.

September 04, 2008|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

To build anticipation for its new spinoff of the teen soap "Beverly Hills, 90210," the CW kept a tight lid on preview copies and rolled out the show right after Labor Day, on a night with light competition.

Both steps look pretty smart right now.

Tuesday night's two-hour premiere of "90210" gave the struggling CW some of its best ratings ever, with an average of 4.9 million viewers, according to early data from Nielsen Media Research.

"90210," which follows new characters alongside such regulars from the old series as played by Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty, gave the CW its highest-rated night for a scripted series in the key demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds, with a 2.6 rating / 7 share.

Previously, the network hit that demo level only with its reality hit "America's Next Top Model."

On Tuesday, NBC's "America's Got Talent" was slightly higher (2.8 / 8) than "90210." But NBC and other networks also aired low-rated coverage of the Republican convention, so CW ended up with a rare win for the night in the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49 demo.

Most important, perhaps, "90210" also enabled CW to score its third-highest-rated night in its core 18-to-34 constituency, with a 3 rating / 9 share. The program did particularly well among women 18 to 34 (a robust 4.3 / 12).

The "90210" premiere came one night after CW delivered the second-most-watched episode of its teen soap "Gossip Girl," with a second-season rollout watched by 3.4 million viewers.

The real test for "90210" will come over the next few weeks, as other networks unveil fresh episodes of new and returning shows, including Fox's "House" and NBC's "The Biggest Loser: Families."

The original Aaron Spelling soap was never a Top 20 show, but it was massive in young adult demographics. But even its total viewer numbers sound impressive by today's standards: The final season in 1999-2000 on Fox averaged 8.3 million viewers.

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scott.collins@latimes.com

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