The CW Upfront Sells a Mix of Girl Power and DC Crossover Potential

With 'Supergirl,' the network now has four nights of comic fare — something it plans to exploit in a massive crossover set for fall.
Courtesy of CBS
'Supergirl'

What you see is what you get with The CW. With only two new shows premiering this fall, alongside the off-network addition of Supergirl, the message at Thursday morning's City Center upfront presentation was about staying the course with male- and female-skewing original series.

Network president Mark Pedowitz kept his show to a tight 45 minutes, trotting out stars from the still-growing roster of DC Comics dramas and the actresses behind the network's lesser-watched awards bait. Both kinds of series, as a brief slide show illustrated, are serving two very different audiences. The new additions — whimsical apocalypse romance No Tomorrow and vaguely supernatural detective drama Frequency — seem destined to lean female and male, respectively. (The reel for No Tomorrow appeared to get the most resounding approval from the crowd, one that's probably logged roughly three hours of trailer-watching since the top of the week.)

Here are four things to know from Upfront Week's closing act:

Supergirl Has Landed
Executive vp network sales Rob Tuck was the latest CW exec to tout the addition of Supergirl, which will move from CBS for its sophomore season. A mere mention of the series garnered applause in the packed theater, and that was well before star Melissa Benoist graced the stage with her fellow DC superstars at the network. Pedowitz echoed that enthusiasm later in the presentation, noting that the show "belongs here" at The CW. He also confirmed plans to include Supergirl in a four-way crossover event — "the biggest ever," he promised -— with The Flash, Arrow and DC Legends of Tomorrow later this year.

But She Is Not the CW's Biggest Female Star
Superheroes and vampires may drive The CW's ratings, but the network is so clearly fond of its critical-darling comedy stars. Rachel Bloom and Gina Rodriguez came out onstage in character as their Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin alter egos to joke about their respective series' admittedly absurd premises and celebrate their shared status as Golden Globe winners. They did end on a serious note, however, acknowledging their network's many female-fronted programs and the abundance of female showrunners. "We're half of the world," said Bloom. "Don't know why it's taken so long, because we're 51 percent of Earth." Then in a somewhat awkward shift, she introduced the man who runs that network, who credited the pair with making The CW the "most critically acclaimed" broadcast network.

The CW Remains Committed to Maintaining Its Male Audience
Both Tuck and Pedowitz used the upfront platform to boast about the audience composition at the network, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. When Pedowitz took over in 2011, The CW skewed 70/30 female, thanks to a schedule of female-fronted series led by Gossip Girl. Today, it's roughly 50/50, making it "the most balanced" of any broadcast network. More impressive, per Tuck, is that the network over-indexes among females by 68 percent, care of critically acclaimed series Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; among males, the net over-indexes by 40 percent, no doubt the work of the D.C. universe.

Digital Continues to Expand
In a presentation that had haggard buyers in and out in 45 minutes, thanks to fewer new shows and a lengthy data-centric pitch, Pedowitz still managed to find time to talk up his two digital initiatives, CW Seed and new addition CW Good. The latter will be dedicated to showcasing its stars' causes, and Pedowitz encouraged Madison Avenue to open their wallets and be a part of it. Garnering the most screen time was Jane the Virgin star Justin Baldoni's My Last Days series, which will share heart-warming (and heart-wrenching) stories of terminally ill patients and their families. The premiere episode of the digital series will be simulcast on The CW in August.

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