CW Executives on Sunday Strategy, Reduced Ad Loads and Passing on 'Supernatural' Spinoff

Mark Pedowitz and his team fielded questions from the press about their fall schedule ahead of the network's upfront presentation Thursday morning.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The CW
Mark Pedowitz

Rather than focus on his five new series, the press grilled CW president Mark Pedowitz about his decision to expand his programming from five nights to six a week.

Come fall, The CW will venture out Sunday nights, which will feature the original scripted-programming pairing of Supergirl and Charmed. According to Pedowitz, it was important to have both an established returning series (the former) and a brand-name new one (the latter) as it would help do some of the heavy lifting in marketing the network as well as the shows on the night. Choosing series as high-profile as he did also served as a powerful signal to advertisers and affiliates alike that The CW was committed to its new night. As for the broader decision to add Sundays, Pedowitz made clear during his half-hour call with reporters ahead of his network’s upfront presentation Thursday morning that the more programming that The CW has, the better off the business is.

“It was also a statement that we do believe in broadcast,” he told reporters. “We want to stake a claim that we want to grow as others contract.”

As Pedowitz sees it, the ability to expand to 12 hours in the fall was a sign of confidence from The CW affiliates; parent companies; and business model, which has been boosted of late by a lucrative SVOD deal with Netflix. Which is not to say the move to Sundays will come easy. Later in the call, his marketing chief, Rick Haskins, noted that the marketing push — for the new night as well as the shows — would begin early. In fact, he revealed that the stars of Charmed and Supergirl would be busy recording promos for "CW Sundays" next week to air on local affiliates as soon as possible; a national campaign will come closer to the launch date.

The remainder of The CW’s time with the press featured a hodgepodge of topics, including two questions about the decision not to pick up the female-led Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters. Pedowitz reiterated that while he was a fan of both the characters and the women playing them, he felt that the product, in its current form, wasn’t as strong creatively as those pilots that he did pick up. As for the departure of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend after this coming season, Pedowitz suggested that the hourlong light-comedy genre that the pairing established is one he is committed to continuing. He also praised the two shows as well as iZombie for helping change the perception of his network, and then added that he would love to have new fare from the affiliated talent as early as the 2019-20 season.

Also included in the call was a considerably franker synopsis of the ad marketplace by The CW executive vice president network sales Rob Tuck. Asked to address the network's strategy with regards to reducing ad time and charging premiums for those reduced ad loads, which media buyers have heard a lot about from other networks this week, Tuck stated that his network had no formalized plans to do so at this time. "The buzz around the industry right now is beginning to get the real sense of the cost of doing limited commercial runs, and the clients, most of the clients, are hesitant on the premium that would be pushed back towards them," he said. "So, we're certainly open to trying to figure out these things in the future, but I think the clients are speaking."

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