The CW is trying to send the message that Nikita, which will premiere on Thursdays at 9pm after The Vampire Diaries in the fall, will have a broader appeal than the typical CW show. CW chief Dawn Ostroff thinks the show will appeal to both men and women.
“Any time you can expand what your target audience is, that’s great,” said Ostroff.
That might sound like a bit of a messaging turnaround, but I'm not sure it is. Even during the few years the CW has been focusing on the young female demographics, Thursdays have been the home for CW shows targeting men -- Supernatural and Smallville prior to this season and Supernatural this season.
Ostroff notes that though Nikita should appeal to men (hot spy babes in skimpy bikinis, guns, action, etc), that it still tested better with women. I'm not sure if the "broad appeal" comments for Nikita are pure PR puffery or not. If the CW is going to do a male targeted show 9pm Thursdays is the good time to do it since even a waning Grey's Anatomy vacuums up a huge portion of women 18-34. Whether Thursdays at 9pm is a good slot to go for a broader audience is another story.
I don't know if the CW can pull it off, but if it can find as big of a female audience as 90210, and as big a male audience as Supernatural, it will have a big hit on its hands, at least for the CW.
Those who are rooting for CW to program to a broader audience should probably root for Nikita to succeed. It's crystal clear that the focus on women 18-34 hasn't worked well so far. Though I understand it takes time to build a network, it can't be easy for CW's parents to sit back and see new shows from ABC Family, MTV and others absolutely destroying the CW in its target female demographics.
Although the CW loses millions, the party line is that its parents make the money back via licensing, DVDs, iTunes, etc. I always hear that 90210 makes a boatload internationally, and while that might have been true in the past, is it in the present?
Until the bitter end, fans of shows like Heroes and Flashforward would link to past articles touting international success, but the more recent U.S. ratings wound up being the better indicator in both cases. It's hard for me to believe that wouldn't be the case with CW's shows too.