Blastr ran a piece today about the terrible, terrible ratings CW saw for its television broadcast of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” It drew less than 600,000 viewers and was by a significant margin last in its time slot.
I’m not sure why anyone should’ve been surprised by this. “Dr. Horrible” is a fantastic piece of nerd comedy – but it’s also now four years old. It debuted as a multi-part YouTube production back in 2008, and it’s been available on instant view on Netflix for quite a while (where it’s been rated over 1.3 million times, which means its been watched a ton more than that). The official YouTube episodes are gone, but the unofficial reposts have millions of views — including this one, with 3.6 million. It’s out on BluRay. There’s a comic book. There are t-shirts.
The point is, as great as “Dr. Horrible” is, it’s ancient content. The people who love it have seen it a whole bunch of times. I love it, I’ve seen it a bunch of times, and I didn’t give one second’s thought to watching it on TV last night. So you combine old content with the fact that it’s old content targeted at a niche audience of geeks, and I’m not sure what you expect to happen when you put it on broadcast television. The fact that it still drew more than a half-million viewers seems pretty good, and that probably would’ve been considered OK had it been on basic cable and not on the CW.