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Why Chuck won't end up on CW or USA Network

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Written By

April 15th, 2009

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There are a lot of rumors floating around about how the CW would pick up Chuck in the event that NBC doesn't.  But I think fans should cross their fingers that NBC renews Chuck, which we think is still a very possible outcome.

I know there are a lot of you who don't want to hear any more about Chuck, but I'm writing this now just to be out of the way with it, and I promise that unless there is some juicy news or something extremely cool to say about Chuck, I won't write anything about it again until next week!  And as a bonus, I won't have to write it next week, the week after, or during the pandemonium that would no doubt ensue should NBC not renew the show.

I'm not sure if the rumors are completely bogus, but I'm not anywhere near sure they're in the same zip code as the truth either.  As for where these rumors start, I'll chalk it up to two things:

1.) on the surface it makes some sense since The CW is half owned by Warner Brothers, and the studio that produces Chuck is Warner Brothers

2.) the rabble rousing "Nick C" who has stated in our comments, going back <i>months</i> now that CW chief Dawn Ostroff had a pact with Josh Schwartz, the executive producer and co-creator of Chuck to save his baby, should NBC pass on it.

It's merely a guess, but I'm guessing that Dawn would rather see Lilly (Gossip Girl spin off) work out and have Schwartz produce it.  Schwartz is also the executive producer of Gossip Girl, and produced the Lilly pilot that I think  just winds being a back-door pilot in part of a Gossip Girl episode later this year ) And I'm not sure that Lilly would break Schwartz's heart.The CW's Dawn Ostroff

In Chuck, Schwartz gets to pay constant homage to the 1980s. In Lilly, he gets to do a show SET in the 1980s.  Some people are just 1980s-philes.   I was 17-27 for the decade of the 1980s, and I remember it very well, and apparently not nearly as fondly as Mr. Schwartz!   But I'm sure Schwartz would love to see Chuck, Gossip Girl and Lilly all work out.

Again, on the surface, it does sound plausible. Chuck would get lower ratings on the CW than it does on NBC,  but it would probably do as well as Smallville and Supernatural which are among the CW's best performing shows overall and Dawn O. could perhaps silence the critics  a bit.  There are many critics, ourselves included who think the CW should have another show or three that  target broader demographics than girls and young women.  But I don't see much chance of it happening.  I see no chance of it happening, really.

The big reason I don't see it happening is money.  Think of the CW more like a cable network, because ratings-wise, it's much closer to USA Network  -- a network that regularly outperforms the CW,  in prime time, at least in terms of total viewers.

Not as many people will watch Chuck on the CW as watch on NBC, so the CW can't make as much money selling ads for it as NBC can.  I couldn't see any case where the CW would pay even 75% of what NBC pays for it.  So right away, the studio would be looking at a 25% haircut in the licensing fees, that it of course would want to pass down to everybody who works on the show.   The DVD and online revenues for Chuck aren't such that I see the studio wanting to do it.  While it might make the fans happy, if it isn't an outcome that makes the studio and the people working on the show happy, it's not a good outcome.

It's for these same reasons I don't see it moving to the USA Network either.

 
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