The CW Chief on 'Jane the Virgin's' Emmy Snub, 'Supergirl's' Backstory and a Shift in Perception

Mark Pedowitz also talked about Nina Dobrev's exit and the 'Notebook' drama he put into development during his stop at the TCA.
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Mark Pedowitz

Mark Pedowitz is committed to a strategy that’s working.

During his stop at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Tuesday afternoon, the CW president reiterated a set of goals that he outlined when he joined the network back in 2011: to broaden out the audience; to find shows with adult appeal; and to bring men back to the network. Four years later, he has delivered on all three.

"The 2014-15 season has been pivotal," he said from the Beverly Hilton stage. "It changed our perception." From the podium, he pointed out that last year’s additions, Jane the Virgin and Flash, provided him with the most acclaimed show and the most watched show in CW’s history, respectively. And though the younger-skewing network lures an audience that's considerably smaller than its broadcast competition, it did manage to grow its total viewership by 12 percent — which Pedowitz noted, marked the network's third consecutive year of growth.

Evidence of the CW's shift in perception was felt in the Beverly Hilton ballroom, as Pedowitz fielded questions about the gains he's made at the network, which now regularly draws praise for Jane, Flash and longer-running Arrow. During his time on stage, he talked broadly about the network's push for more and year-round original programming — CW features more than 300 hours today, up from 220 hours when he arrived — along with the components he looks for before making a bet on a new show: "Will it make noise. Will it set itself apart. And will it sustain itself for 100 episodes."

Here are the other highlights from Pedowitz's session with the press.

That Jane Snub

Like many in the ballroom, Pedowitz acknowledged just how "disappointed" he was to see Peabody winner Jane the Virgin get snubbed by the TV academy earlier this summer. Given what he’s seen already seen from showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman, he said he's hopeful that the series' second season will earn the Latina dramedy the nom that "they deserved this year." Season two will also be about growing Jane's niche audience, which may explain the just announced guest appearance from Britney Spears. Urman and CBS TV Studios sought out the pop star after they learned she was a fan of the CW show.

Supergirl's CW Roots

Asked why Supergirl will air this fall on sibling CBS and not genre-heavy CW, Pedowitz said that he wasn’t ready to commit to another superhero series when studio Warner Bros. came to him with the idea last summer. At that time, the CW had yet to air breakout Flash, and he didn't yet have plans to add another DC project, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, to the schedule. "Sometimes you lose great projects," he said, acknowledging that there can be downsides to being patient. Still, he noted that he’s "still a broadcaster," which is to say he can’t simply rely on genre programs.

An OTT Future

Pedowitz noted that CW Seed — an incubator for original comedy series, which also serves as talent incubator for the flagship network — is slowly increasing its library content. Already, there are several acquired series on the site, including The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the 1990 iteration of The Flash. The bulk of site’s content is still web originals (including the Veronica Mars spin-off Play It Again, Dick). But with more networks investing in over-the-top options, Pedowitz acknowledged that acquisition programming could be a key building block. "We’re beginning to look down that line," he said.

All the Rest

Like Vampire Diaries fans, Pedowitz didn't want to see star Nina Dobrev go. He said that the actress would be welcome back at any time, before joking that the network has had a good track record with brother shows. As for that Notebook project currently in development, Pedowitz suggested there are no plans for the CW version to feature the elderly couple — at least for now. What he does know: it will be set after World War II, Nicholas Sparks will be heavily involved and, if ultimately ordered, it has the potential to "make a lot of noise."