Steve Levitan: Take 'Modern Family' offline

Series co-creator has lobbied ABC to remove online episodes

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 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).
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