Steady As She Goes: Minimal Changes in Store for the CW
She may have been talking to a group of (understandably) tired, hungover media buyers, but Gina Rodriguez's impassioned address at the CW's upfront presentation had all the emotional impact of an Oscar speech.
Flanked by her cast mates, the "Jane the Virgin" star on Tuesday morning took the stage at New York's Beacon Theatre to thank the assembled media buyers and advertisers for their support.
"Thank you for letting me do what I love every day," the actress said. "It may be just money to you, but to us it's our dreams!" At which point, the carefully trained ear could detect the sound of buyers reaching for their checkbooks.
Ms. Rodriguez also heaped praise on CW president Mark Pedowitz, crediting him for championing the racially diverse "Jane." (Before introducing the young star, Mr. Pedowitz rattled off a list of the show's awards and accolades, prompting an enthusiastic round of applause from the orchestra level. "Applause is so nice!" he said, a nod perhaps to earlier times when the network didn't get anywhere near as much love from Madison Avenue.)
If "Jane" and the Golden Globe-winning Ms. Rodriguez provided the CW upfront presentation with its feel-good moment, the mood in the room took a quick turn toward a sort of tuneful hysteria with the introduction of the network's lone new fall series. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is a noisy, manic one-hour comedy about a young woman who relocates from New York to the not-quite-L.A. exurb that is West Covina.
Originally developed as a raucous half-hour Showtime comedy, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" stars Rachel Bloom as the titular character. After a cutdown of the pilot unspooled, Ms. Bloom bounded onstage to talk about how the chemical reactions that occur in the brains of those besotted by love mirror those found in people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. She then gave a shout-out to Bette Midler.
"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" will lead into "Jane" on Monday nights. As usual, the CW's season won't begin in earnest until October, as the network prefers to launch its shows outside the fall premiere window. (If nothing else, a staggered start allows for a smarter, more targeted marketing strategy, and eliminates the need for the CW to try and match the Big Four on promotional spend.)
That the CW is coming to market with a single new fall show is a function of Mr. Pedowitz's decision to renew eight dramas back on Jan. 11. In fact, much of the October schedule will look familiar to anyone watching the network right now. "The Flash" and "iZombie" remain joined at the hip on Tuesday nights, "Arrow" leads into the veteran "Supernatural" on Wednesdays and "The Vampire Diaries" and its spinoff "The Originals" are, at long last, paired on Thursday nights in an all-bloodsucker block.
Midseason action/medical drama "Contagion" puts Atlanta on lockdown after a viral outbreak threatens to kill off every last resident, while the "Arrow"/"Flash" spinoff "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" will bring the CW's superhero series count to three. Throw in the spring hit "iZombie," an adaptation of the Vertigo Comics series, and the CW now has four DC projects slated for 2015-16.
The DC shows helped deliver the CW's most successful year ever, while further expanding the network's reach beyond the women 18-49 demo. Naturally, the addition of men to the mix has attracted a more eclectic group of advertisers. Per iSpot.tv estimates, the CW's biggest clients in 2014-15 are Geico, Progressive, AT&T, Hershey's and Toyota.
Season-to-date, the CW has booked $488.8 million in ad sales revenue, according to iSpot, an improvement of 34% versus the year-ago period ($366 million).
The CW's Fall 2015-16 Schedule (New programs in UPPER CASE)
8-9 P.M. — "CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND"
9-10 P.M. — "Jane the Virgin"
8-9 P.M. — "The Flash"
9-10 P.M. — "iZombie"
8-9 P.M. — "Arrow"
9-10 P.M. — "Supernatural"
8-9 P.M. — "The Vampire Diaries"
9-10 P.M. — "The Originals"
8-9 P.M. — "Reign"
9-10 P.M. — "America's Next Top Model"