Paul McGuire, Executive Vice President for Network Communications at The CW.
The reason is clear. The CW has never been big on promoting Supernatural (compared to its promotion of, say, One Tree Hill or even Smallville), and – even though we're only talking about reruns – the complete removal of Supernatural from the network schedule can hardly be construed as a gesture of support. Fans of the show worldwide, justifiably objecting to Reaper being pushed at Supernatural's expense, have responded with a roar of disapproval and threats to boycott the network entirely once Supernatural burns off the four remaining new episodes over the next month.
My request to The CW for comment on the fan outrage elicited this brief response from Paul McGuire, The CW's network communications executive:
"The CW is very supportive of Supernatural and continues to be. The show continues to deliver strong episodes viewers like yourself have embraced. The move to air encores of Reaper Thursdays at 9 is an attempt to get sampling for that show, which is in its first season, unlike Supernatural, which is a proven veteran."
Out of this the second sentence is certainly true: Supernatural continues to be strong, well written, well produced, and well acted. That's why we love the show. The issue isn't whether the show's any good; the issue is how the network is treating it.
The thrust of the balance of the statement is that Supernatural, a "proven veteran," has already established itself, and should allow the newcomer, Reaper, to "gain additional exposure" (in the words of a different press release) from the helpful Smallville lead-in.
Though Reaper has gotten a lot of positive press and some of the best buzz of any new show this season, network concern about Reaper's ratings is understandable: during the fall it co-led new CW series (with Gossip Girls, natch) in ratings but ranked near the bottom among new shows overall and in its time-slot, according to analysis at TV by the Numbers. (One must remember that The CW has a more limited exposure than the other broadcast nets, so ranking fifth isn't surprising, all other things being equal.)
Supernatural's fan base has been giving the show consistent ratings of 3 million viewers an episode, according to Nielsen research. Reaper's numbers have been slightly lower, around 2.5 million by late fall.
So the number-driven decision is try to to help Reaper. Unfortunately, The CW chose to do so by sending a message that they do not support their proven veteran, Supernatural: they didn't shift it to a different slot, they pulled it. I cannot understand what Mr. McGuire means by "very supportive" in light of that decision.
It's great that you're supporting Reaper, CW programming execs, but when it comes to Supernatural, two facts remain beautifully clear:
- Taking the show off the air is taking the show off the air. It's that simple.
- The only way to demonstrate that you support Supernatural is to put it on your schedule.