At, we’re all VIPs!

27 03 2009

thecwAs much as I love The CW, I have to admit that I’m sometimes a little overwhelmed by their website.  I feel like everything I click on leads to social media, social media, and yes, more social media.  Now, I’m not saying that their use of social media is bad – I actually think it’s pretty great – it’s just that there’s so much of it!

Every show on the network has its own “VIP Lounge” filled with blogs, message boards and community member profiles related to that particular show.  Fans of The CW can join the website and post blogs, skim through tag clouds, discuss their favourite shows, take quizzes, meet other fans, and browse through countless photo galleries of the ridiculously attractive CW actors.  As America’s fifth broadcast network, targeting women ages 18 to 34, The CW is definitely taking advantage of the social media trend.  You hardly even need to watch the network, considering the amount of the supplementary material they provide on their website through social media.  Blogs with plot summaries, streaming video of full episodes, previews for upcoming episodes… why bother even turning on the TV?  They’ve definitely recognized that those in their key demographic group are big users of social media.  In fact, according to an analysis done on, 61% of the 893,000 Americans who visit The CW’s website each month are female, and 50% are within the 18-34 age group.

In addition to filling their website with different forms of social media, The CW has also extended their online presence to external sites like Facebook.  Upon clicking the “Lounge” link on The CW’s homepage, users are taken to a page where they can go to the VIP Lounges for various shows, or link to the network’s fan page on Facebook, where they’re told they can “make friends”.  With more than 52,000 Facebook fans, it’s pretty easy to see that The CW has a considerably large online following.

What I find funny though, is that The CW’s Facebook page is, in some ways, easier to navigate than its official website.  While there’s a lot more information and ways for fans to interact on, the Facebook page is much more streamlined and much less chaotic.  The website is bright, flashy and fun to look at, but a little overwhelming at times because there’s so much going on – and I bet it would not be too fun with a dial-up connection…  The Facebook page, on the other hand, is simple and makes it easy to find information like the nightly show lineups, photos, videos and even where to buy CW shows on DVD.

Clearly, The CW is not afraid of using social media – they’ve embraced it really well, but the fact that as a member of their key demographic, I sometimes find the website too overwhelming to even bother with, makes me wonder if they’ve gotten a little too ambitious.  Or maybe I’m just picky and too lazy to dig through all that extra stuff when I want to know about the latest One Tree Hill drama or Gossip Girl hijinks?  Is it just me, or is it just a bit too much?


9 02 2009

This Friday will be a big day for Joss Whedon fans everywhere – at 9 p.m., FOX will premiere Whedon’s newest series, Dollhouse. In case you aren’t familiar with the GENIUS that is Joss Whedon, he’s the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. I would be lying if I said I’m not really excited to see what Dollhouse is like. summarizes the show as follows:

The Dollhouse is a very secret, and very illegal, place where wishes come true. Clients with the right connections and enough money can hire “Actives”, people who have been programmed to perfectly fulfill the needs, and desires of their clients. The Actives are people who have chosen, for their own reasons, to surrender their bodies and minds for a five-year stay in the Dollhouse. Now they can be imprinted with any personality, skill, or even muscle memory. They can be the perfect companion, lover, spy, assassin; and when the job is done they forget everything.

But something is wrong with the Active called “Echo”. No longer just a blank slate waiting for her next assignment, Echo is remembering flashes of the lives that she has lived and the games she has played, and she is starting to wonder just who she really is…

I’m a big fan of Whedon’s past work, so I’ve got high hopes, but I logically feel that I can’t make a judgement on the show until I’ve seen it. This is why I can’t believe how many fan forums and blogs are already out there, devoted entirely to Dollhouse. I even came across a blog called “Dollrific!”, where a fan has been blogging about the show since last spring. It hasn’t aired a single episode, but Whedon fans are already coming together to support the show – and try to save it from cancellation.

That’s right, fans – or people who assume they’ll be fans – started campaigning as early as May 2008 to save Dollhouse. While I find this pretty strange, I also think that it’s smart, considering the fate of Whedon’s last TV endeavour. When FOX aired Whedon’s Firefly in 2003, it lasted only one season and the cancellation resulted in a lot of angry fans. So this time, fans aren’t waiting until after cancellation to show FOX that they want this show to stay on the air. Instead, they’re being pre-emptive and using social media to band together early. They’re taking advantage of blogs, forums and wikis, and discussing the show they’re all eagerly anticipating.

DollhouseI know I may appreciate the enthusiasm of these fans in the future if I come to like Dollhouse and FOX talks about cancelling it, but I just can’t bring myself to participate on any of the websites I’ve come across. I feel like delving too far into this Dollhouse world may ruin the show for me before I even see it. For example, Dollhouse Wiki (which was actually set up by FOX) has spoilers for the first 10 episodes, which I have no desire to read because I don’t want to know what’s coming. Although I must admit, I’m quite amused by the Dollhouse paperdolls that users of the wiki can download, print and assemble.

Joss Whedon has a very loyal fan base, which I do include myself in, but I think what really boggles my mind about the huge online community that has formed around Dollhouse is that there haven’t been any episodes to talk about yet! I can’t figure out for the life of me how there are currently more than 22,500 posts on Dollhouse Forums when there is nothing to talk about besides the production and anticipation of the show. I mean, it’s pretty clear that I like to talk about TV, but 22,500 posts about a show that hasn’t aired? That’s impressive.

So, as I eagerly await Friday night’s premiere, I’m left wondering if this pre-emptive online community will help or hinder Dollhouse. Will fans using social media be successful in keeping a good show on the air? Or, will the anticipation result in disappointment from high expectations that simply cannot be met? For now, I suppose all I can do is set my VCR and wait.