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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 01/27/2011

CW to air return of 'Vampire Diaries' on Thursday and Friday night

By Lisa de Moraes

CW late Thursday pulled the plug on plans to air "Smallville" and "Supernatural" Friday night and will instead rerun the same original episodes of "Vampire Diaries" and "Nikita" that will have aired just one night earlier.

This had serious students of TV - and fans of all of the above series - scratching their heads in wonder.

Here's what's going on.

"Vampire Diaries" and "Nikita" are returning with original episodes to CW's schedule Thursday night. You may have read here in the TV Column about the marketing campaign CW deployed to get out the word about the return of "Vampire Diaries" - the network's No. 1 show among viewers in age brackets it covets. The campaign urges viewers to "Catch VD." Do you have any idea how much a "Catch VD" campaign costs?

Anyway, two CW stations in important TV markets plan to preempt the much ballyhooed return of "Vampire Diaries" tonight. One is Chicago - the third biggest TV market in the country, behind only New York and Los Angeles. In Chicago, "VD" has been KO'd by a Chicago mayoral debate.

The other market is Baltimore, the country's 26th largest TV market. in Baltimore, "VD" is being preempted by ACC--basketball, that is.

Also figuring into CW's thinking: Thursday night marks the return of "Vampire Diaries" -- against ratings behemoth "American Idol."

Add these factors together and the folks at CW decided was that "VD" and "Nikita" could use a second consecutive night of viewer sampling. So, Friday's episodes of "Smallville" and "Supernatural" will be moved to next week. Because, let's face it, fans of those shows are so fanatical they'll watch them a week late.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 27, 2011; 6:49 PM ET
Categories:  Local TV  
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If the CW had made this decision even a week earlier, it might have made sense, but this day-before announcement was nonsensical. The change came so late in the game that the CW network's own Thursday night advertising crawls and promos - and website! - still proclaimed that "Smallville" and "Supernatural" would be back the next night with new episodes. Apart from folk glued to Twitter or other social media spreading the news, who would even know or be able to learn about the change, to decide to watch the "Vampire Diaries" and "Nikita" rebroadcasts on Friday?

By pushing back the other two shows' highly touted midseason returns, the CW also negated all the buzz generated by its own advertising push on those shows, including their unusual step of having released to critics just a couple of days ago an advance screener of the "Supernatural" episode. Those moves had generated exactly what the CW had intended: critics praised the episode, and "Supernatural" in particular made a number of critics' "Must Watch" lists. And on one day's notice, the CW threw all that away.

I've got to wonder who made this boneheaded choice. Planned for in advance, this extra airing might have boded well for "Vampire Diaries" and "Nikita", but all this bungled timing will do is confuse viewers who haven't heard the news (my TiVo still thinks it's recording "Supernatural" tonight!) and antagonize the fans of "Smallville" and "Supernatural" who are - as you noted - loyal and fanatical to a fault, and who *never* saw the CW take a move such as this to protect those shows from either preemption or competition.

Major PR fail, CW. I think this is a case study in how NOT to run a network.

Posted by: bardicvoice | January 28, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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