Remember the old days of the CW presentation, when former President Dawn Ostroff would go up on stage and every word out of her mouth would evoke ridicule and plenty of eye rolling? When shows like “Smallville” and “Supernatural” didn’t nary a mention, even though they were two top shows on her network? When the only recognizable brand this network had was the fashionistas from Gossip Girl? When all the new shows catering to the narrow 18-34 female audience were teen soaps that if you squinted hard enough might have been able to see the difference between them? She made NBC’s Bob Greenblatt look like a cutting edge innovator.
There was none of that yesterday at the Television Critic’s Association press tour as current CW president Mark Pedowitz took the stage. One year into his term and already things are looking very different. The CW is actually now a competent network with a sound strategy. Granted ratings haven’t improved, but visibility has, and in this day of promoting product through multiple platforms, The CW is way ahead of the curve compared to other networks.
“Digital streaming numbers on our shows are astronomical,” said Pedowitz during his executive presentation yesterday. “Nielsen is trying to do the best they can. We are all looking for an accurate measurement.” The trick of course is trying to monetize those multiple platforms, and Pedowitz acknowledged that’s the obstacle they face at this time. “”Us, advertisers and affiliates are all looking for an accurate measurement of every person who is watching the shows.”
The fact is despite the inaccurate ratings measurements, CW shows are being watched and gaining visibility. The Vampire Diaries and Hart of Dixie were two shows that got the most online viewing. Another show that is getting a reprieve of another season due to strong online ratings, despite very poor live ratings is The L.A. Complex. A show that didn’t fare so well on multiple platforms was Ringer. “The show’s serialized story may have been too complex,” Pedowitz admitted, which is why new serialized show Cult is only getting 13 episodes this season. 22 episodes is too hard to follow. Despite the fact that Pedowitz is still getting letters from fans, Ringer is dead. He does hope Sarah Michelle Gellar will come back in some capacity though, as an actress or producer.
The same goes for Tom Welling too, at least as a producer. He apparently pitched a show to the network in the spring and is on their radar. The mention of the former Smallville star brought up another bullet point in Pedowitz’s presentation, growing the 18-34 male audience that was lost since Smallville went off the air. Arrow is just the beginning in attracting that audience, and pairing it with the CW’s current top rated show with males, Supernatural, will give them at least one night a week to expand that demographic. This desire to attract a male audience is one reason why The Secret Circle wasn’t picked up for a second season. The show lacked according to Pedowitz both good looking males and humor.
One possibility in attracting a broader audience is the retooling of The Selection. Even though the series was not picked up, the project isn’t dead. “I’m a big believer in the show,” said Pedowitz. “I really wanted a show that has a Game of Thrones-Hunger Games tone and we hope it’s The Selection.” Another title mentioned in the development stages is an adaptation of the Japanese cult hit Battle Royale They’re also considering bringing back comedies to The CW, but chances are concepts will be tested online first, through their previously announced CWD online channel. The CW also wants another family show, a la 7th Heaven. “There is a version of a family show that we could do that would speak to 18-34.”
Another big topic of discussion was the network’s new strategy of premiering all its shows in the beginning of October, a few weeks after the other four networks debut their fall lineups. Not only does that get The CW out of the way of the bigger networks, but it solves the nasty problem that has been biting The CW since its existence, a slew of repeats during the year killing a show’s momentum. Most shows will be shown back to back every week with little interruption.
As for other existing shows, Gossip Girl is getting a ten episode sendoff and also might get a retrospective too, a la One Tree Hill. It is The CW’s desire to send it off right. A big question mark was resolved as well for buzz worthy show Supernatural. Fan favorite Misha Collins will be in at least eight episodes. Also on the subject of Supernatural, Pedowitz doesn’t see the long running show ending anytime soon. “I hope it stays on as long as I’m still here.”
In other misc notes, the Muppets will be back for another Christmas special, and a date was given for the previously announced first time network airing of the online hit Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. It will air Tuesday, October 9th at 9:00pm.
After Mark Pedowitz was done with his presentation, three new shows for the fall got their turns in the spotlight, Arrow, Emily Owens M.D, and Beauty and The Beast. Here’s a few soundbites from each:
Emily Owens M.D.
Beauty and The Beast