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30/04/2008 - par Mark Tungate

You may have heard of Gossip Girl. The US série TV features a group of young, wealthy New Yorkers whose lives are documented by an anonymous blogger. With teen angst, glamour and casual sex thrown into the mix, it is as compelling as it is kitsch. It also represents a media revolution.

Gossip Girl is an enormous hit. But producers at the CW TV Network didn't think so at first. In fact, the viewing figures barely hit 2.5 million viewers : the kind of lame showing that can get a series cancelled. And yet there was lots of buzz about the show on the web. How could it not be successful ?

In fact, although teenagers were not watching the TV broadcast, hundreds of thousands of them were downloading episodes from Itunes. Executives at ratings company Nielsen had been so used to monitoring TV audiences that they didn't realise the viewers were elsewhere. As The New York Times put it, « This isn't the first show to find Internet success... but this is the first show that seems to have succeeded primarily on the Internet. There's something about the combination of the show's premise, the viewers' age, and the available technology that has given Gossip Girl a life of its own online. »

Not only that, but after downloading the show, the kids blog about it. But here's the stinger : the CW network is so worried about advertising revenue that it has taken the season's final five episodes off the web, and will show them exclusively on television. I hope the kids protest.

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