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CW Streaming App To Fail, NBC Research Would Indicate

CW is making all recent episodes of in-season shows available to stream free. However, recent research from NBC shows that viewers are far less likely to watch a new season of a show if they don't have access to old episodes.

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While the CW ratings haven’t been great in the past, the network has had some success with newer TV shows gaining cult like followings in the millennial demographic. The hope is that shows like Super Girl and The Flash will help jumpstart the network, but ratings still aren’t exactly great.

That said, CW recently announced it would be making its streaming app completely free for all viewers. No more cable log-in required. The app will allow viewers to watch the latest episodes of all it shows.

At the same time, CW will be pulling content from Hulu, making its own app the go-to place to watch all CW shows. However, the app will not feature full on-demand libraries of past seasons. Older episodes of shows like Supergirl will still make their way to services like Netflix in due time.

It’s a gutsy move to be sure, but will it be successful. Recent comments from NBC would lead us to believe otherwise.

According to NBC’s President of Research and Media Development Alan Wurtzel, the network’s research shows that over 50% of people say that “if I can’t see [previous] stuff before I go to the new episodes, I’m not gonna watch it.”

Furthermore, 72% of people surveyed stated they’d be more likely to watch a returning series this fall if they had access to all the past seasons in order to play catchup.

The network has recently gone to great lengths to make it easy for viewers to watch NBC online. It has added programming on-demand to both cord cutting services, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, making it simple for anyone to access its content. FOX has done the same, while CBS has decided to create its own standalone service, CBS All Access.

If what Wurtzel said is true, it could be that CW is going about things all wrong. Sure it’s great that you can get the latest episodes online free, but frankly, you can already do that with an antenna. What about the episodes that aired a few weeks ago? How about last season?

According to NBC’s research, it would seem making that content more easily available would have the biggest impact on ratings.

Of course, CW could still decide to expand its on-demand library of past seasons. It currently offers a small selection. But if it decides against doing so, it could prevent the network from righting the ship.

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