TCA 2012: CW's Mark Pedowitz Talks 'Gossip Girl,' 'Muppets' and Flaws in Nielsen Measurement
“Digital streaming numbers on our shows are astronomical," says the CW president. "Nielsen is trying to do the best they can. We are all looking for an accurate measurement."
Drawing a distinction between the big four broadcast competitors, CW president Mark Pedowitz stressed the network's “aggregation” approach – epitomized by its recently unveiled tagline “TV Now.”
“The digital streaming numbers on our shows are astronomical,” said Pedowitz during a brisk question and answer session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Monday. The CW’s live television ratings have perennially lagged behind Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC. But the network’s young target demographic has downloaded the CW streaming app more than 1.2 million times. CW also streams its content on Hulu and Netflix. And for the last few years the network has sold its programming to advertisers on a combined linear TV and digital basis. “We’re realistic about where the audience is,” said Pedowitz. “If they cannot view it [on TV], we’ll make it available.”
Pedowitz added that Nielsen’s overnight numbers and the C3 metric (live commercial rating with three days of DVR playback) do not accurately measure the totality of the audience viewing CW series including Vampire Diaries and Hart of Dixie. “Nielsen is trying to do the best they can, we are all looking for an accurate measurement," he said.
The network will premiere three new dramas this fall: Emily Owens, M.D., Arrow and Beauty and the Beast. All of the CW’s shows will premiere in October, a deliberate strategy to avoid the September crush of new and returning series premieres on competing networks. The strategy also means there will be less reruns on CW as the network will run many shows, including the final 10 episodes of Gossip Girl, uninterrupted. The network also is looking at a Gossip Girl retrospective to give the show a proper send-off.
And Pedowitz is working to bring more men into the CW tent, which he hopes to do with DC’s Arrow and additional adaptations of those potentially male-skewing DC properties, though he was mum on specific titles. And he noted that Secret Circle failed because it did not have “enough good looking men or humor.”
Other highlights from the session:
The Selection is still in contention
CW passed on the pilot adaptation of author Kiera Cass’s book series starring Friday Night Lights’ Aimee Teegarden. But with Pedowitz keen to get his own version of epic hits including HBO’s Game of Thrones and the big-screen franchise Hunger Games, he's giving a re-worked Selection script another look. “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. If it's not, then we will go to another area.” An adaptation of the 2000 Japanese hit Battle Royale is another contender in that milieu. “It comes with a nice cult following,” said Pedowitz, adding that it is “one of predecessors of a lot of these things we do today.”
Those tenacious Ringer fans
Pedowtiz admitted that he’s still getting email from disappointed fans of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s canceled Ringer. “The fans are still writing me, they want it desperately,” he said. The show's serialized story may have been too complex, said Pedowitz, adding that Ringer did not perform as well digitally as he would have liked. He reflected that if the CW did another heavily serialized drama, he would order a more modest episode order. That said, he’s still talking to Gellar – who is pregnant with her second child with husband Freddie Prinze, Jr. – about returning to the CW either as a star or producer. “[We] have had many discussions since May [when Ringer was cancelled]. When she’s ready she would love to come back to the CW and we would love to have her at the CW either as an actress or a producer.”
Last year’s Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa special was watched by 2.4 million viewers, giving the network its most-watched Wednesday night in more than a year. And Pedowitz promised: “There will be more Muppets this holiday season.”
And way more Misha
Misha Collins – a fan favorite on Supernatural – will be back for at least eight episodes of the show this season. Collins, an avid Twitter user with more than half and million followers, was a regular in seasons five and six.
Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie