CW unveils 2010-11 schedule
Network will have all-original series lineup for first timeFor the first time, the CW will have an all-original series lineup.
The network said Wednesday that it will launch two freshman dramas in the fall along with its returning shows, which finally will give the CW a weekday schedule free of slots devoted to repeats. The CW hopes to build off freshman hit "The Vampire Diaries" with action-drama "Nikita" and give its new cheerleader soap "Hellcats" some help from "America's Next Top Model."
During the CW's upfront at Madison Square Garden, executives continued to emphasize the network's online-savvy young demos, noting that it has more Twitter followers than any other broadcaster.
"The CW is more than TV -- it's TV for Generation D, as in 'digital,' " CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff said. "We have the most engaged audience of any network and deeper relationships with our viewers."
That's familiar CW patter, but this year the network has a business plan to back up its new-media focus. The CW is the first broadcaster to sell its entire fall lineup as on-air ads bundled with online streaming ads, converging the two mediums into a single ad sales focus. All of the CW's fall shows will be available online three days after their linear airing, complete with commercials from the network's linear advertisers.
"The idea that we're selling convergence now is a statement about the network that we're at the forefront of this business," Ostroff said.
The CW also is emphasizing having 10 hours of original programming, including its first all-drama Friday night. Every weeknight has either a new show or a time-period change that executives hope will optimize its lineup.
"From a sales point of view, having 10 original hours in the fall is tremendous," CW ad sales chief Rob Tuck said.
On Mondays, "90210" will be paired with "Gossip Girl," linking two shows with a high concentration of young female viewers. Tuesdays will have "One Tree Hill" and the sophomore season of "Life Unexpected." On Wednesdays, "Top Model" will lead into "Hellcats." Thursdays has "Vampire" into "Nikita." And on Fridays, the 10th and final season of "Smallville" will be joined by "Supernatural," a duo that performed well together on the network previously.
The CW plans to pick up "a few" more shows for midseason, raising the possibility that it will have more inventory next year. Between the network's use of repeat slots and not having backup programs to replace the occasional disappointment, like "Melrose Place", the CW's lineup developed ratings potholes this season that can stymie audience flow.
With returning shows "One Tree Hill" and "Life Unexpectedly" only having 13-episode orders -- "Then we'll see how they do," Ostroff said -- the network's schedule could change significantly in midseason. But as long as those changes keep original content on the air, the CW has a shot at some year-over-year growth.