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06 January 2008 @ 04:25 pm
My latest letter to the CW on "Supernatural" ...  

For those who are interested, here is the text of my latest letter to the CW, delivered to feedback@cwtv.com and via email to my local CW affiliate. The email subject line, by the way, read "Supporting Supernatural: A Silver Lining to the Writers' Strike." A version properly and formally addressed to Dawn Ostroff at the CW is going via snailmail.

I welcome anyone who so desires to utilize however much or little of this letter as you choose when composing your own. Please link this anywhere you think it might help the cause!

This was my response to the announced revised CW schedule, which takes Supernatural off the air after the last of the new original episodes airs on February 21, 2008, and represents my attempt to persuade the CW that they're missing out on opportunities to bring more viewers to the network through judicious promotion of selected feature episodes that could run during the strike season to attract viewers deprived of their customary Thursday night entertainment on other networks.

No one responds well to angry rants, so there's no anger here. I doubt this letter will do anything useful, but at least it can't hurt, and it keeps Supernatural (and this Supernatural fan) in a good and positive light. And it makes me feel that at least I've communicated my desires to the Powers-That-Be, whether they pay any attention to them or not.

And now I'm going to return to the contemplation of future Supernatural University classes and fanfic ideas ...

Dear CW:

I noted with dismay the press reports of the CW's planned midseason schedule. My consternation centered on the note that Supernatural would disappear from the CW's schedule following the last first-run episode on February 21, 2008, to be replaced for an unspecified period by episodes of Reaper.

I hope that Supernatural's absence from the CW's schedule will be short. I understand the issues presented by the writers' strike in limiting the availability of original scripted programming. I can appreciate the desire not to devalue a popular program by excessively repeating the limited available number of complete current season episodes, and also to give a different struggling freshman show a supportive lead-in from an established performer. With that said, however, I think that in taking Supernatural off the schedule entirely after the February sweeps end, the CW is missing a "silver lining" opportunity presented by the writers' strike to attract new viewers to both the series and the network.

Supernatural represents the only true instance of "appointment TV" on my weekly schedule from ANY network. I never miss an episode, even in reruns; it is simply the most enjoyable and addictive hour of television out there, distinguished by its fine cast, its production quality, the depth of its character and story development, its classic rock soundtrack, and its unique blend of fully integrated humor, drama, and scares. I've often wondered why the CW hasn't provided more promotion for this series, especially given its respectably solid ratings performance in the toughest hour of television competition, going head-to-head against blockbusters CSI, Grey's Anatomy, and The Office, and its unusually broad demographic appeal, which reaches beyond the customary audiences for most other programming on the CW network. Because of its crushing competition, most people simply don't know that it's out there.

As the strike continues, I would encourage you to consider advertising and airing selected episodes from the previous two seasons of the show as a way of giving viewers deprived of their customary original Thursday night programming on other networks the chance to discover the magic of Supernatural and the Winchester brothers for the very first time. You could marshal the considerable energy of the show's enthusiastic fan base to support and promote this Supernatural "second chance for a first impression" by inviting fans to nominate and vote on the limited number of episodes that would air. Challenge fans to explain in very short essays suitable for advertising use why people who've never watched the show should tune in for these special encore episodes, and use the best of the essays in promos for the encores. Seduce people away from reruns elsewhere by giving them the opportunity to sample and become addicted to the most unique and highest quality show on the CW.

I know that this can work because it's a strategy I've used to introduce people to the show, and I've made Supernatural fans out of many unexpected people who had no idea that the CW existed or that there was anything on the network that they would love to watch. Based on my experience, Supernatural could be the CW's equivalent to The X-Files in terms of attracting audience and attention to the CW network for distinctive and original programming. The show appeals to all ages of both sexes for different reasons, from its physically attractive cast to its witty writing, from its intense drama to its quirky humor, and from its frightening ghosts and urban legends to the warmth of its family relationships; there's something in it for everyone.

I'll be here happily when Supernatural returns. I will eagerly await the resolution of the writers' strike and the resumption of production on new episodes to continue the story of Dean and Sam Winchester. And in the meantime, I encourage you at the CW to give Supernatural the chance to bring more viewers to the CW network by offering viewers an attractive alternative to reruns and the glut of shallow reality programming elsewhere through special encores of the very best of Supernatural.

Thank you.


ETA:  My letter to Ostroff, by the way, included one additional paragraph before the "thank you." The text of that paragraph read as follows:


On a more general note, I would also encourage the network to do better and more focused outreach to the fans of its various shows, including Supernatural, both to prevent fan over-reaction to network announcements and to utilize the ability of the fans to multiply the network’s own promotional efforts through viral marketing techniques. Because television series exist at the whim of the market, viewers often tend to perceive the network as a threat and an enemy, rather than as the home where favored shows reside. The fans of all of your shows could do a lot to help promote the CW network, if only you made the effort to reach out to them in a friendly, honest fashion that conveyed the impression that you cared about the fans and about improving the ratings performance of the shows those fans love. With that in mind, I would point out that most fans participate on fan-run websites rather than the chaotic boards maintained by the CW for a variety of reasons; for example, I prefer the calmer, less juvenile, more intellectual attitude that prevails on well moderated sites, and the better subject matter organization enforced by good webmasters. It would not take much work to include the webmasters of responsible key sites such as www.supernatural.tv or www.winchesterbros.com on the email notification lists used by your publicity office in order to convey communications directly from the network to the fans. Please think about it. 

And for anyone wishing to send their letter via snailmail as well as email, here is Dawn Ostroff's address:

Ms. Dawn Ostroff

President of Entertainment

The CW Network
3300 West Olive Ave
Burbank, CA 91505

galathea_snb: h/c at your sidegalathea_snb on January 6th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
*cheers you on*

Very well formulated and articulate letter. I was very disappointed by the step the CW took and honestly think it is a bad decision for the network in general. I am baffled at the CW's ignorance towards one of their best rated shows, it just doesn't seem to make any sense to me. :( I hope your letter reaches a sensible person within the network.
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ladymirth: right hereladymirth on January 6th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely, reasonable letter, Mary, with effective, creative ideas that won't cost the CW a penny. I really hope somebody at the CW has the sense to take it to heart.

And I like the idea of the "second chance for a first impression" slogan. I think fandom might pick it up, even if the CW doesn't.

Go you, Mary, your bad self! =D
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Thanks, dear! I hope many folk write letters similar to this one ...
Danipinkphoenix1985 on January 6th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
great idea!
(Deleted comment)
Re: yes, its a great idea... - pinkphoenix1985 on January 6th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tngmd on January 6th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Way to go!! If anyone could clearly, calmly and concisely communicate the fans' thoughts (like mine!)to the CW, it would be you!! Thanks for your efforts to let the PTB know how SN fans feel!!
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
Thanks - feel free to plagiarize, if you wish!!
pannspanns on January 6th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
Beautiful well-written letter, Mary. I love the idea of letting the CW know in a positive way that we are loyal fans of our show, we can’t wait for it to return, and we want to share it with everyone.

Why catdancerz, for some odd reason I have the urge to write a letter myself! ;-) Seriously, I never write letters into the networks, but for my favorite show, I’ll take the plunge.

Thanks for the example Mary!
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Thanks, panns! The more of us, the merrier ...
originalcindyroriginalcindyr on January 7th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
Wonderful letter Mary ... I wrote mine out but am in need of editing - I realize that surprises you ... :-)
Thank you for providing an excellent point that I had forgotten regarding the fan base of Supernatural & X-Files. I'll finish mine up and get it off tomorrow. I hope others will do the same.

As you said, it might not help, but it keeps me happy to know I've done something positive for our show and the boys and our writers and our crew. Plus ... if more voices positively join in, I can't help but think that it truly might help. Hopefully that's not just me with my glass half full.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
Tee-hee ... you, in need of editing? Surely not!

I know mine is longer than optimal still (especially the Ostroff one, which was indeed two pages!), but there were just too many points I really wanted to make to get it shorter. I sent the additional Ostroff paragraph (on improved direct communication with fans) as a separate email to the CW feedback mailbox ...
raputathebuta: fudgeraputathebuta on January 7th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
*stands & applauds*

Nicely done, Mary! I especially like the idea of using the fanbase to help promote the show & letting viewers nominate & vote for which episodes to rerun.

FX used to do this for Thanksgiving Day marathons of The X-Files & I participated every single time. I know, I know...that was a one-day marathon, but, like you, I believe something like that would work extremely well for Supernatural.

I also tune in every Thursday whether it's a rerun or not.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
The more folk who send in the idea, the better our chances of getting someone to think there might just be something in it ... *grin*
whimsywinx: SN-DeanBatmanwhimsywinx on January 7th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
Very well reasoned letter, Mary! I hope they take it under due consideration.
zillah975 on January 7th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Here from your comment at Firefox news -- this is an awesome letter. Have you posted it to any of the comms? I hope you don't mind if I link to it.
bardicvoice: Ninja Love Tackle by <lj user=cakehole_cbardicvoice on January 7th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Link, cross-post, whatever ... you have my encouragement, not just my blessing!!

(no subject) - bardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
psychoactivtoad: spn - I heart spnpsychoactivtoad on January 7th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Great letter, Mary. I particularly like the positive tone. I definitely think that's the way to go when addressing the studios and execs, instead of ranting complaining.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
Thanks! I get my ranting out of the way, and then go for hopefully persuasive sweet reason ... *grin*
mrsr58mrsr58 on January 7th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
mary, thank you for sharing your cool-headed and most articulate letter to the CW. i am also preparing a letter to them, as well as to kelly kahl, the executive who oversees CBS and CW programming at the following address (if someone's aware of a better one, please let me know):

CBS Television Network
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

(BTW, did you read the CW's press release? no mention of our show.)

bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
I hope that they get a lot of calm and positive letters, to offset the usual dismissal of fans as rabid!

Thanks for adding to the total!
ErinRua: WGAerinrua on January 7th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Here via zillah975! :-)

Wonderful letter, just the right tone of reason and calm that can do the most good. If it's okay with you, I'd love to use this as a sort of template/base to compose my own letter. I think I'd like to send something a touch shorter, but you've so beautifully illustrated every pertinent point. If you'd prefer people use this un-edited, however, that's fine by me. :-)

Will spread the word about this, once I'm home and not at Starbucks, lol!
Cheers ~

bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Use as much or as little as you would like! I think that individualized letters have much more impact than slavish repetition, even of a good form letter ... Spread the word as widely as you wish. I think that the more of us who take this approach, the better off we're likely to be.
percysownerpercysowner on January 8th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
You and I think alike. I fired off a similar e-mail as soon as I heard about Supernatural being pulled from the schedule, including suggesting they run episodes from earlier seasons to draw in more viewers.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on January 8th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
May we rule!
labseraphlabseraph on January 8th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Very nicely written. AXN in Malaysia was screening The Best of Supernatural (Seasons 1 & 2) in the original time slot while awaiting the 3rd season. Very in line with your suggestion and I'll bet it's because doing so is still generating income for them. AXN usually lets a show go on hiatus at the end of the season, re-running the previous season to anticipate the new season before segueing into the latest season. Only CSI (CSI, NY and Miami) and Lost got this treatment from AXN. It has only stopped this week to screen the new Glenn Close series Damages.

My hat goes off to you for your continued and unflagging efforts for our darling show. Looking forward to the next class.
pretty much the nostalgia chick: i can explain!vikki on January 22nd, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
That's a lovely and well-written letter! I think someone on staff will enjoy reading it, at least, and at the very least one can hope it gets back to Kripke and the rest. XD;

I read dodger_winslow's pseudo-meta about ratings and 'Supernatural' versus 'Reaper' (in which she discusses how the CW wants to cater to the 16-25 crowd, not the 30-something crowd), and now I kind of feel like sending off an immature fanbrat letter (WHERE'S MY SUPERNATURAL!? WHAT IS THIS SHIT SHOW?) like the 23-year-old I am just to make them go 'huh, maybe we are appealing to the demographic we want'. XD; )

I won't, really. And now that I've rambled about things that are of totally no interest to you, I hope that your letter has an impact!