Last week, hell officially froze over-at least within the cutthroat world of television-when longtime rivals UPN and the WB merged into a single network, The CW.
This move will allow the network to concentrate advertising efforts on the financially desirable pool of young viewers.
"The college-age, 18-22, is a critical foundation of the demographic we are targeting," said Executive Vice President of Communications for The CW Paul McGuire. "I think the WB was always pretty aggressive in the college arena-we did several tours with actors. The new network needs to keep this demographic in mind."
Luckily for The CW, even a high-pressure environment such as Columbia can harbor a few television enthusiasts. According to Columbia University Information Technology's George Mintz, there are currently 878 Columbia cable subscribers, and the number normally peaks at around 1000.
Jonathon Balcao, a third-year School of the Arts film student, uses TiVo to keep up with his favorite shows. "I spend all day in the library reading Kant, so if I want to come home and watch One Tree Hill, whatever. After a day of critical theory, sometimes it's nice to sit back and wonder whether Brooke and Lucas are going to get back together," Balcao said.
"I have a couple of core shows that I really follow," said Catherine Carnovale, a second-year School of the Arts film student who lists the CW shows Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls among her favorites. "And then everything else depends on my schedule."
When asked what The CW was doing to specifically target college audiences, McGuire said, "We have not been doing any college campus blitz for the launch, but in top 10 markets like New York, our branding campaign has been going forward."
Katharine Trendacosta, CC '10, seemed concerned about the lack of advertising visibility for The CW around Columbia's campus. "There was a ton of marketing being done really early in L.A. There are some posters up here, I've seen them in the subways. But in L.A., there were billboards everywhere on Ventura Boulevard."
Regardless, Carnovale thinks that the merger will be successful. "The whole idea of the network is really good, and I think that they are going to be able to capitalize on each other's audience in a way that the WB and UPN by themselves couldn't."
If nothing else, having so many college-popular shows on one network will hopefully lead to fewer TV-addicted Columbia students skipping night classes when they can't decide which show to TiVo.