Hollywood Insider: TV Guide Magazine’s Debra Birnbaum Give Us The Supernatural Cover Follow-Up Scoop


Season six of the hit CW Network action series, Supernatural had a ‘decided at the last’ minute one week delay in coming off it’s holiday hiatus. So this Friday, February 4th the brand new episode titled ‘Like a Virgin’ will be airing at 9 PM EST. Having seen a preview of this episode, I can say that as viewer of Supernatural, I feel the episode is every bit worth the wait.

While fans and viewers had that extra week to wait, this Eclipse Magazine reporter caught up with Debra Birnbaum, who has been the editor-in-chief of TV Guide Magazine since 2008. It was Birnbaum who came up with the ambitious idea to have TV Guide Magazine host its first ever ‘Fan Favorite on the Cover’ poll. The culmination of that poll took Supernatural and its stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles into virgin territory for the series: the honor of gracing the December 13-19, 2010 TV Guide cover as the first ever fan favorite poll winner no to mention the first time on the TV Guide cover for Supernatural!

All of the fans and viewers of Supernatural know that the cover turned out gorgeous and we were proud of our ‘boys’  winning that coveted spot. But this viewer was curious about how the cover did and what it meant to TV Guide Magazine. So read on as I touch base with Debra Birnbaum on this topic.


We asked Debra Birnbaum if she could give us a little background on how this idea for a fan favorite cover poll came about, she told us that it came to her last summer during her very first visit to a San Diego Comic con. ‘I was blown away by the passion of the fans for shows that might not be in the top 10. I wanted to tap into that enthusiasm, and give those fans a voice. So I thought of letting them pick a cover of the magazine.”

The TV Guide Magazine fan favorite cover poll ran from November 1st to December 7th and generated 5.5 million fan votes for their favorite series’ in the running. Even with this much competition and fan interest in voting, Debra said she wasn’t surprised that Supernatural won. “I knew Supernatural had a tremendous, vocal fan base. What surprised me was the number of total votes [for Supernatural]. I was really amazed at how committed the fans were to winning a cover for their favorite show.”

What I found out, and was pleasantly surprised about while doing this follow up piece, was that Debra Birnbaum and the folks at TV Guide Magazine were not driven by goals of sales  for the fan favorite cover. That they were genuinely interested in doing something that gave the fans a voice and a say. “We didn’t have any specific sales goals,” Birnbaum told us at Eclipse Magazine. “What was important to us was tapping into the online fandom.”

However, this reporter was still curious about how the TV Guide Magazine cover featuring Supernatural held up in the sales in comparison to covers featuring series and actors from bigger networks. Birnbaum told us that the sales for the cover featuring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were in line with the average weekly sales of other TV Guide Magazine covers.

As a viewer and supporter of Supernatural, I couldn’t help but be pleased at hearing this. I think it proves what Supernatural fans and viewers have known all along about the show: that it can more than hold its own against the competition and the ‘bigger guys’.

While Supernatural is still basking in its moment in the sun with a TV Guide Magazine cover, we asked Debra if they were going to run another poll?

“Absolutely! We plan on making this an annual franchise. In fact, we just launched a new phase of Fan Favorites.  We’re hosting a series of polls asking fans to choose their favorite shows, stars, characters, etc. Those winners will be featured in the April 18th issue of the magazine.

Of course we also had to ask if she would put Supernatural on the cover of TV Guide Magazine again given how much of a winner it is?

“We choose each week’s cover based on the best story of that week, so let’s see what they have in store!”

Well Debra if S6.12 Like a Virgin is any indication of the top quality of the stories ahead for Supernatural, I think TV Guide Magazine should start planning that cover.