Alice’s Take  

Yeah, I’m seeing it a bit differently.  Of course different is good!  

I think Mark Pedowitz is considering so many pilots because if a lot of shows wow, he can pick them up and use them for mid season and possibly summer.  The biggest liability for The CW is that they go dark most of December, parts of Feb/March, and the entire summer because they have more programming gaps than shows available.  Reruns thanks to iTunes, online, and now deals with Hulu aren’t practical anymore.  It’s all The CW has as gap fillers.  As a result, fans go away after the big fall runs and tend not to come back in the same numbers.

I hear the instant counter argument.  ”The CW can’t afford it!”  No, they can’t.  However, corporate parents CBS and Warner Brothers will jump if there’s opportunity to market and offer more appealing content.  More shows make that possible.  Thanks to the recent deals with Netflix and Hulu, and the promise of more deals coming, The CW actually can afford some shows this year.  Not eight, but at least half that.  

However, Mark Pedowitz knows he has another issue.  They can’t keep filling current prime slots with weak, underperforming shows.  And everything except for “The Vampire Diaries” is underperforming.  That’s why this network is six years in, hasn’t turned a profit and keeps watching live ratings sink at an alarming rate.  The mentality of keeping mediocre shows going because they’re making marginal money overseas and staying cost efficient does not help the network get live eyeballs.  

Let’s look at the current lineup first.  The CW would absolutely be the most moronic, completely not worthy of airing another hour of television if it cancelled “The Vampire Diaries.”  That show isn’t just The CW’s number one show, its the number one show by A LOT.  From a demo standpoint, 18-34 and 18-49 it competes with other networks.  Often times it wins its timeslot in 18-34 and comes in 3rd and 4th in 18-49.  That’s in the highly competitive Thursday at 8pm slot.  As a matter of fact, “The Vampire Diaries” so far in the six year history of The CW, is the network’s only success story.  There is no way the network is going to mess with it’s one big success.

The second highest rated show on The CW right now is “Supernatural.”  It’s not number two by a lot, and in 18-34 it lags behind all others except it’s Friday night partner “Nikita.”  It’s an older show, which makes it more costly, and if renewed will be the only show left from the old WB network. However, Supernatural is the second highest rated show on the network in the Friday at 9pm slot!  It does that in an actual competitive slot against two other genre shows, “Fringe” and “Grimm.”  It also makes a lot of money now for network parent Warner Brothers sitting at 149 episodes at the end of season seven. 

It’s popular, the fans are extremely loyal, and historically “Supernatural” maintains its ratings all season while other shows sink.  If “Supernatural” didn’t get renewed, the only factor would be cost since the cast and crew want it to continue.  Right now, the income is much greater than the cost since it’s an in house show.  There is also no other show in the current lineup that can support a Friday timeslot.  Considering Executive Producer Robert Singer and both stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have been talking about season eight, count it in.  

The other “no brainer” on my list is “90210.”  Sure the ratings aren’t fantastic, but they’re better than most.  The 18-34 female rating is one of the best on the network and if it’s renewed for a fifth season, it gets the coveted 100 episodes.  That puts this show in a whole new echelon in syndication dollars.  That will raise it’s fee with Netflix to $700,000 per episode alone.  From a cost perspective, the first six years have costs defined in the contracts, so there’s no haggling.  Only one other show created by The CW has gotten 100 episodes, Gossip Girl.  They aren’t passing that up.  This is a show earning it’s keep.

Oh, since I brought it up, let’s talk about Gossip Girl.  It’s hard, because the ratings are atrocious.  It’s the lowest rated show on the network, creatively it’s alienated a bunch of its viewers, and the actors have moved onto other things in their minds.  However, I’m penciling it in for renewal.  It sucks that I am, but I’ll explain why.  Despite Pedowitz’s desire to grow the network, The CW primarily exists currently so the corporate parents can create shows and make money on these shows.  Gossip Girl hit really good money making territory this season as soon as it hit 100 episodes.  Contractually, the actors and the costs are fixed for one more year.  It’s a franchise, even if it’s a fading franchise.  It’s still popular internationally, and from an ad dollars perspective it makes more money for The CW than any other show.  That might change given it’s sinking ratings, but it doesn’t matter.  Warner Brothers is making a lot on this show.

I wouldn’t be surprised though that given its ratings, “Gossip Girl” becomes either a mid season show or gets burned off during gaps for other shows.  Or, it gets paired again with “America’s Next Top Model.”  Why not, the Wednesday at 9pm timeslot has always been a loser.  Either way, it will get a full 22 episode order.  This show has already proven, sadly for “Hart of Dixie,” it cannot launch new shows.  I do not think a renewal for “Gossip Girl” will rob another slot from a new or existing show.  The CW has plenty of gaps in it’s schedule.  I also think this is that show’s last year.  

The rest of the schedule is tricky.  There’s “Nikita,” “Ringer,” “Hart of Dixie,” and “The Secret Circle.”  The shows are either rookie shows, or in the case of “Nikita” a 2nd year show.  They aren’t making a lot of money and aren’t commanding a big fee for Netflix.  They’re all struggling.  If Pedowitz gets a strong pilot season, they all could be gone.

“The Secret Circle” is the hardest one to call.  It actually is very close to “Supernatural” in terms of ratings.  That’s not good considering the lead in it has and the night it’s on.  Thursdays is The CW’s biggest night.  The problem is, both “Supernatural” and “Nikita” were bounced from this timeslot the last two years because they couldn’t keep up in the demo ratings wise with it’s lead-in, “The Vampire Diaries.”  At first “The Secret Circle” held up, but it’s really sunk this season.  A few weeks ago it lost half the demo.  That’s actually worse than what “Nikita” and “Supernatural” did in that slot.

“The Secret Circle” could suffer the same problem “Nikita” did.  It gets a timeslot on another night and without that strong lead in sinks like a stone.  That’s a huge risk for a network that needs to get the most bang for its buck.  There aren’t many slots it could go.  The biggest possibility is Fridays at 8pm, but I don’t see that show being compatiable with “Supernatural.”  It’s more teen oriented, where “Supernatural” is not.  The only other show would be one of the new pilots, but I can’t imagine “The Secret Circle” being a show strong enough to lift a new show.  If it is renewed, another possibility is mid season.  That could work, but that would only be because it makes enough money elsewhere where it’s worth keeping around.  I’m thinking it doesn’t.  One thing is for sure, it likely cannot stay where it is.  ”The Vampire Diaries” will be needed to launch a new show.

Overall, I’m hating “The Secret Circle’s” chances, even though it’s doing well on DVR.  If it does get renewed, it will only be for 13 episodes. 

I’m really not liking “Ringer’s” chances either.  Like “The Secret Circle,” I gave up on the show after a while.  It didn’t hold my interest.  Actually, I held out with “The Secret Circle” longer.  This show creatively isn’t strong, it isn’t must watch television to many of its viewers, it doesn’t do well on DVR and it’s sinking almost as bad as “Gossip Girl.”  It’s also a terrible companion with “90210.”  It’s gone.  

I really hate “Nikita’s” chances.  The reason it was moved to Fridays was because it attracted the same demographic as “Supernatural,” 18-34 and 18-49 men.  We have truly learned that despite the similar demographic, “Nikita” watchers are not “Supernatural” watchers and vice versa.  Loyal fans are not keeping it strong.  It’s the worst performer on the network in DVR.  ”Nikita” is an action adventure, “Supernatural” is a genre horror show.  Little crossover on audiences there.  The question is, will an existing pilot pair well with “Nikita?”  Considering “Nikita” is in it’s second year, creatively isn’t bad, and still doesn’t have a strong fanbase, I don’t see it getting another chance.  The one thing that could save it is international popularity.  It is popular in some European countries.  If it is making enough money internationally, it could be a midseason show on Friday.  

If any show has a chance, it’s “Hart of Dixie.”  I think the network really likes it, but its pairing with “Gossip Girl” has not gone well.  Let’s face it, “Gossip Girl” has sunk it.  It still does better than “Gossip Girl” ratings wise despite the pathetic lead in.  I do believe that’s why repeats are being tried on a different night.  It’s not a heavy show and actually compliments the lineup.  It’s well received by viewers.  It’s not heavily promoted though, so expectations had to have been low.  I’m actually giving the show a 13 episode order and another chance.  There are a few pilots it could pair with, or it would be a good match with “90210.”

As for pilots, I’m counting “Arrow” as a sure thing.  It’s DC which is what the network and DC owner Warner Brothers have desperately wanted, the cast has been making headlines, and David Nutter is doing the pilot.  When he does a pilot, it’s considered picked up (he did “Supernatural’s” pilot).  I was skeptical about a Green Arrow reboot after he was featured on “Smallville,” but I guess there were discrepancies between the DC comic and what “Smallville” did.  So I’m curious to see this now. 

I’m liking “Cult’s” chances too.  Early buzz is this is a pet project and Josh Schwartz’s Fake Empire name to it doesn’t hurt.  I have no better reason than that though.  Fake Empire also is doing “The Carrie Diaries,” but that one doesn’t sit well with me.  One of these will get picked up.  

As for the rest, I cannot predict.  Honestly, these pilots haven’t even been shot yet.  Early scripts favor “Beauty and The Beast” and “The Selection” too, but that doesn’t mean much.  I’m really skeptical of “Beauty and The Beast,” but that’s because Kristin Kreuk is involved.  She still makes me cringe from “Smallville.”  

As for the schedule, there are a ton of holes in my book!  I see five new shows being picked up for fall.  

Monday:       New show
                     New show

Tuesday:       90210
                     Hart of Dixie (13 episodes)
                     New show (13 episodes)

Wednesday:  America’s Next Top Model
                     Gossip Girl

Thursday:     The Vampire Diaries 

Friday:          Arrow

Wait a second, is that a new show leading in “Supernatural” on a FRIDAY?  Yes.  I don’t like the idea of premiering a brand new show on a Friday, but if any type of show has proven to thrive on a Friday, it’s the superhero action show.  From what we’ve learned with “Smallville,” it’s the type of show that would perfectly pair with “Supernatural.”  I know though, why waste since a high profile show on a Friday night?  Doesn’t The CW want to grow viewers?  I agree.  Which is why I think ”Arrow” and “Supernatural” should be on Tuesdays.  What would you move to Friday’s though?  Nothing would thrive.  So this is a sticking point that I’m sure I’ll keep messing with for a while.  

This is take one of my schedule.  My mind will change between now and April.  So what do you think?  It’s your turn.  




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