When Gossip Girl premiered, the show came in last place in its time slot with only 3.65 million viewers. It lost more than half of its lead-in from America's Next Top Model and 22 percent of its own debut numbers. Gossip Girl averaged a modest 2.6 million viewers for all of its first season.
Yet, according to the Los Angeles Times, it's a bona fide hit.
Although The CW hasn't been able to translate the hype into substantial ratings, fans have shown a similar affinity for new media, consistently making Gossip Girl the most downloaded TV show on iTunes.
Nate (Chace Crawford) spoons Blair (Leighton Meester).
"It's sort of become the first show that has managed to achieve some level of cultural permeation and success in the new world order where ratings don't really seem to apply," executive producer Josh Schwartz said.
On the other hand, ratings do matter.
With the show's second season due next fall, the network executives are looking into ways to take advantage of viewership (largely by tech-savvy teen and 'tween viewers) shifting to different places.
"When you look at all the ways people are getting Gossip Girl, whether on TV or TiVo or streaming or downloading it, clearly there's a strong core group of viewers," Dawn Ostroff, the CW's president of entertainment, said.
"Our job is to start getting the show broadened out a bit."