9:26am PT by Michael O'Connell
Inside CW Upfront: 'Batwoman' Buzz, Jonas Brothers and Royal Baby Jokes
Blessedly brief, per usual, The CW rolled out a tight upfront presentation Thursday morning at New York City Center.
"Since we're the final presentation," noted ad sales exec vp Rob Tuck, "we have the opportunity to distinguish The CW from every one you've seen thus far."
It certainly did that with a runtime of less than 45 minutes, kicking things off with a playful reel of network personalities set to the Jonas Brothers' single "Cool" — apparently The CW's theme song du jour. The musical trio then took the stage to open the show with a live rendition of the track, segueing into an even more crowd-pleasing performance of the recent No. 1 tune "Sucker."
In terms of programming priorities, network chief Mark Pedowitz made it clear what his favorite new entry is — rolling out a clip of Batwoman before he even be began his pitch to the crowd. There also was a healthy amount of time devoted to newcomer Nancy Drew, pitched as a complement to the hit Riverdale, and a sincere/silly sendoff to Supernatural. That drama is finally going off of the air after 15 seasons.
Here are the highlights:
Multiplatform Isn't a New Concept
After a week of networks — or, more appropriately, their giant parent companies — pitching OTT offerings, Tuck and Pedowitz reminded advertisers that they've been doing it for years. Touting 60 million app downloads, an emphasis on advertising on every platform and the youngest median age of any rival, Tuck said that The CW's existing streaming efforts created "the blueprint for the rest of the industry."
Batwoman Will Anchor the Fall Schedule
Quite jazzed about the Batwoman trailer — one that played particularly well with the City Center crowd — Pedowitz started his portion of the presentation with the clip. "That looked kind of cool," noted star Ruby Rose, who said she'd never seen it before. "Batwoman is a symbol of how The CW continues to evolve and defy convention," added Pedowitz, who then went through a rundown of how the network is leading the way with inclusivity across the board. "This is who we are." As far as clips, the Nancy Drew teaser seemed to land very well, while the Riverdale spinoff (and midseason addition) Katy Keene garnered a softer response.
Lots of Love for One Surprise Returning Show
The CW didn't technically "cancel" any series during the 2018-19 season, and certainly none of its five freshmen. The only of those series to get a second round of promotion, however, was the Greg Berlanti-produced All American. The football drama, never a lock for renewal, didn't just get to come back — its cast came out to thank advertisers for their support. Pedowitz then likened it to the first season of Riverdale in terms of buzz and streaming heat, which would imply that its initial time on Netflix has brought promising news.
So Long, Supernatural
Supernatural, the last standing series from the WB Network era that once seemed as if it would go on forever, will come to an end next season. Pedowitz and company paid their respects by bringing out the cast and playing clips from the series' previous 14 seasons. "It's the end of a landmark series," said the exec. "We are going to send Supernatural off in a big, big way." For the cast, that meant some sincere thanks from Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles — and sarcasm from co-star Misha Collins. Dubbing the easy sell, way back when, of a show about "two young, attractive men," Collins thanked the ad-buying crowd for "sticking with it past that point." (Also ending in 2019-20 is one-time network flagship Arrow.)
Insert Obligatory Archie Joke Here
The biggest laugh of the morning event came late in the presentation, when a slew of jokes about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex naming their newborn son Archie (also the name of the iconic comic character that inspired Riverdale) flashed across the screen. A mock-up of Prince Harry's red tuft and Meghan Markle's brown mane was then pictured from behind, on the big screen, with Riverdale on a TV in front of them. "I think we know where they got the name," said Pedowitz.