Steve Levitan: Take 'Modern Family' offline
If it was up to Steve Levitan, his ABC hit "Modern Family" wouldn't be available online.
During an ABC-sponsored coffee break at TCA, Levitan said he's unsuccessfully lobbied Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney to remove online versions of his hit show.
Noting there's roughly 2 million people watching "Modern Family" episodes online whose viewership is not fully monetized Levitan said that, in theory, those viewers could be watching the comedy on regular ad-supported TV.
"I've asked very specifically to use our show for a test market," Levitan said. "We're making it far too easy to watch it on other mediums and not getting proper credit for it. If we weren't on Hulu and ABC.com, why don't we try that? ... I've actively lobbied to look at the big picture."
Between online viewership and DVR viewing, he said, "we could be a Top 3 show if you add all that in."
"The idea isn't to remove ways for viewers to find the show," he added, "but to see what [would happen to the ratings]."
If ABC complied with Levitan's request, it wouldn't be the first time a network embarked on such an experiment. The CW briefly tried yanking "Gossip Girl" offline to see if its ratings improved (they didn't).
Levitan was also asked about the departure of ABC entertainment exec Steve McPherson, who was a big supporter of "Modern Family" and opted to screen its entire pilot at the network's upfront presentation last year.
"My genuine reaction was that it sucks and I'm sorry to hear it," Levitan said. "We've had the best of Steve on our show. He was a longtime friend, we go way back. We took 'Modern Family' to ABC because of Steve, because he said he would support it. While I hear wonderful things about Paul Lee, I like people who shoot from the hip. You knew where you stood with Steve and I respected that."
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