Whatever anyone thinks about the CW’s programming strategy, their PR is second to none. When your highly touted “buzz worthy” show (Gossip Girl) is getting beaten (at least since the official season start in viewership and adults 18-19) by a show from the old WB (One Tree Hill), get the entertainment writers at the LA Times to do a piece on One Tree Hill! Genius!
It’s the CW’s dirty little secret: In its seventh season, “One Tree Hill” is watched by more people than the network’s “it” show, “Gossip Girl.” It always has been.
Few, if any, gushing press releases go out about “One Tree Hill,” which began its life on the old WB as an 11th-hour replacement for a postponed crime drama. Its initial conceit — stepbrothers embroiled in battle on and off the high school basketball court — didn’t stick, and ratings were low until story lines evolved into a sentimental, super-sudsy melodrama concerning the brothers’ larger group of friends living in fictional Tree Hill, N.C.
It’s decidedly less sexy than the Upper East Side, the hotbed of sin on Melrose, or even a town of hungry vampires. Add to that, the show films in Wilmington, N.C., so its young stars aren’t followed around by the paparazzi the way Blake Lively and Leighton Meester are; “Gossip Girl” has the edge among female fans, making it more valuable to advertisers; and, well, “One Tree Hill” has never been a critics’ darling.