The CW practices patience in 2019-2020 season
Having renewed nearly its entire primetime lineup back on January 31, the CW entered pilot season with a short list of projects needed to fill the rare vacancies on the fall schedule. As such, the network will introduce just two new series in October, one of which adds yet another DC Comics property into the mix.
It’s certainly unusual for a network to renew all of its freshman series, but The CW President Mark Pedowitz said on a press call Thursday morning that with more than 500 scripted shows on TV and streaming platforms, “it takes even longer for a show to be found and seen and heard, and we believe in taking our time.”
All told, 14 of the 17 scripted series that aired on the CW this season will return in 2019-20. That consistency is not a hallmark of huge ratings, however; according to the Nielsen data that includes seven days of DVR playback, the network averages just 1.34 million viewers and an 0.4 in the demo—which works out to a little more than 500,000 adults 18-49 per night.
But Pedowitz said The CW no longer evaluates shows based on live-plus-same-day ratings or commercial ratings in the seven days after a program airs, an industry standard known as C7. It takes into account how a series is viewed on a delayed basis and streamed, as well as the creative direction of the program and buzz on social, he said.
Of course, all the patience and buzz in the world isn’t going to make the CW’s younger audience, which has come of age with a hardwired aversion to advertising, sit through a commercial if they can avoid it.
Then again, advertising is not the primary driver of revenue at the CW, which as the primary rights holder of much of its on-air content—the CW is a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros.—makes most of its cash on the back end. That gravy train was shaken up a bit this month when the CW’s eight-year-old output deal with Netflix was not renewed. As such, the streaming rights to the three new shows are being shopped around by the studios. (As a Warner Bros. TV co-production, “Batwoman” is all but certain to wind up on WarnerMedia’s new OTT service.)
Pedowitz said the end of the Netflix output deal would in no way change how the network maps out its programming strategy, adding that it is now “up to our studio partners to decide” where the off-net rights deals land. “It’s important to note that the CW is a vital part of their ecosystem,” he said. “We, as a platform, make these shows popular, and they have increased value across the multi-platform system. So the studio partner companies will figure out what they wish to do with the out-of-season rights.”
Speaking of streaming services, as other network groups this week touted their high-profile efforts to enter the OTT, Pedowitz said The CW was the “original multiplatform network.”
The CW has two ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) platforms that require no authentication with a pay-TV service.
“We have complete confidence in our digital service and will continue to stay in that lane,” Pedowitz said. “We have been there for 10 years.... We know how to do AVOD probably better than anyone in the business.”
Last year, The CW began programming Sunday nights. The gamble seems to have paid off; despite the not-inconsiderable competition it faced in the 8 p.m. slot, “Supergirl” closed out its fourth season as the network’s third most-watched series, while lead-out “Charmed” tied “Roswell, New Mexico” as its highest-rated new show.
Leading into the veteran “Supergirl” in the Sunday 8 p.m. slot, “Batwoman” brings the CW’s overall DC series count to six, and sets up the network’s second all-superhero night. The CW’s top-rated “The Flash” pairs off with the concluding “Arrow” on Tuesday nights this fall.
“All American” will move to Monday nights on 8 p.m. and will be followed by “Black Lightning.”
“Riverdale” will once again anchor Wednesday nights and serve as a lead-in to the new “Nancy Drew” series, which will be a suspenseful, supernatural take on the detective books. This marks the third time the Nancy Drew character will be given the TV treatment; back in the late 1970s, Pamela Sue Martin played the role for ABC, and in 1995, CW precursors the WB and UPN aired a short-lived syndicated reboot of the brand. More recently, Emma Roberts starred as the teen sleuth in the eponymous 2007 theatrical.
Thursday nights remain intact, with “Supernatural” returning at 8 p.m. for its 15th and final season, followed by “Legacies.”
“Charmed” moves to Friday nights followed by “Dynasty.”
The CW will debut “Katy Keene,” based on characters from Archie comics, midseason, along with the return of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “In the Dark,” “Roswell,” “New Mexico” and “The 100.”
THE CW’S 2019 FALL PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
8:00-9:00PM BATWOMAN (New Series)
8:00-9:00PM ALL AMERICAN (New Night)
9:00-10:00PM BLACK LIGHTNING
8:00-9:00PM THE FLASH
9:00-10:00PM ARROW (New Night)
9:00-10:00PM NANCY DREW (New Series)
8:00-9:00PM CHARMED (New Night)
All times Eastern/Pacific