1:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Mark Pedowitz Extends CW Deal, Promoted to Network CEO
Mark Pedowitz, already broadcast's longest-tenured network president, is further solidifying his future with The CW.
The executive has signed a new contract extension and been promoted to chairman and CEO of the network he has called home since 2011. The new title will see Pedowitz continue to oversee all creative and business aspects of The CW. All told, the new pact will see him add multiple years to his current contract and maintain his typical day-to-day responsibilities. Pedowitz will continue to report to the CW board, which consists of executives from across parent companies WarnerMedia and CBS Corp. There are no current plans for Pedowitz to bring in a new executive to fill his now-former role as president of the network. Sources say conversations for the new deal and promotion started a few months ago.
"I have to thank CBS and WarnerMedia," Pedowitz on Friday told The Hollywood Reporter as part of an extensive interview (read it in full, below). "It's reflective of how the network and the job has grown over these past few years — new night, more originals, year-round and summer programming, the expansion into new business areas like CW Seed, our new digitals strategies and to try and figure out where we're going forward with The CW in the future."
The news caps a banner week for the network, which renewed nearly its entire scripted lineup — a whopping 13 shows — as the younger-skewing broadcaster charts a second season in a row without a single cancellation. Notable about this year's renewal wave is the early show of confidence for the rookies Batwoman and Nancy Drew, which have SVOD deals set up at HBO Max and CBS All Access after The CW's Netflix output deal expired last year. (Older shows are covered with the Netflix deal until they end.) Counting acquisitions, Pedowitz has grown The CW's scripted slate to 18 (up from nine in the 2011-12 season). He also oversaw the network's expansion into summer programming with unscripted fare like Whose Line Is It Anyway, among other offerings.
Pedowitz has truly made a mark on The CW, which remains a joint venture between Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios. Since joining the network nearly a decade ago, he has broadened its audience, increased its scripted originals — adding a sixth night, Sunday, last season — and, perhaps most importantly, set an innovative digital strategy. Starting with the current 2019-20 broadcast cycle, The CW has, for the first time, in-season stacking rights to its scripted originals. That change — from its previous "rolling five episodes" arrangement — allows viewers to catch up from the beginning while new episodes continue to unspool — a move that many network observers estimated would help programs that cut through grow audiences who can jump in at any point. Viewers now can watch any of The CW's originals for free on CWTV.com or the CW app.
On the awards front, programming developed by Pedowitz earned The CW's first-ever Golden Globe nominations (for Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom). Rodriguez would go on to win the Globe, while Jane also earned a Peabody and AFI Award.
Meanwhile, Pedowitz continues to grow The CW's digital footprint with CW Seed, filling it with shortform content and library titles including Schitt's Creek and striking a pact with BBC Studios for 14 series. Inclusion, too, has been a top priority for Pedowitz, with The CW earning a GLAAD designation as the most LGBTQ+-inclusive broadcast network.
Below, Pedowitz opens up about his promotion and his future goals for The CW.
Will this change your day-to-day responsibilities?
On the programming side, not really. I'll spend more time in the digital area and making sure we secure our distribution.
How much longer does the network's current ownership structure make sense, given the Viacom-CBS deal and everyone's push toward streaming ownership?
That's a conversation you should have with CBS and Warner Media. As far as I know, there is no plan to change it.
Will The CW still have the same two corporate parents in five years?
I think there's a good chance in five years that The CW could still be a joint venture. As long as it's doing what it's doing right now as a platform in the ecosystem, both parent companies are really happy with how The CW operates within their respective ecosystems. As long as we continue to be an important part for their programming to be platformed on, there's no reason for it not to continue this way.
There's growing chatter that unscripted — programming that is DVR-proof — is the future for broadcast networks. Amid such a changing landscape, what do you see as the future of broadcast?
I’m old enough and mature enough to remember That's Incredible and Real People being a thing of the future. What was that, 1980? Live programming always has a certain place. Alternative programming will always have a certain place. For this particular broadcaster, scripted programming is where we're at. Broadcast is the foundation. We look at digital and video on demand and we look at the social media response to our shows. We look at it as a collective, not just as we're delivering just one thing at that moment.
And for broadcast as a whole?
Personally, I think unscripted is a part of the future; I don't think it's the whole of the future. The key to the future of broadcasting is a mix and it's the use of the programming across all the platforms.
In this current streaming era, with HBO Max, the CW app and CWTV.com, what's the function of the linear network?
We've always felt that it starts with the linear network. The linear network is the foundation of creating a great multiplatform vehicle. And therefore they all work together in a 360 [degree] environment. My belief is my linear network tremendously assists my digital, and my digital tremendously assists my linear and the social media component helps both of them.
Speaking of digital, let's talk about another platform that's part of the Warner Media family. You've got Stargirl airing a day after episodes launch on DC Universe. WarnerMedia's Audience Network was just effectively killed this week. What's the future of DC Universe? Could more of those originals move to CW, with either a first or second window?
I don't know. This is the first time we're experimenting with this. Hopefully this experiment will be a really successful one and then those conversations can begin. I'll know more as time goes on, but it's too soon to tell.
You renewed 13 shows and are on track for no cancellations this year. How much of that was based on any concerns you may have of a writers' strike amid the upcoming WGA negotiating with the studios for a new deal?
I don't think negotiations have started yet; they're still in the planning stage. The pickups are relatively consistent with what we've done in the past; this is not unusual. Remember, I ran a studio one time (ABC Studios), so I'm a big believer in giving our producers a head start in mapping out story arcs and staffing up and giving their teams the best opportunity to find the best talent out there. Hopefully, we're all cognizant of the potential that there could be a strike; hopefully there's not. But that was not the driving motivation here.
Pilot season is around the corner. You've got a Walker, Texas Ranger update in the works with Jared Padalecki. How much are you trying to find ways to keep the Supernatural guys on the network?
I am a big believer in Jared and Jensen Ackles, and if I could keep them both in some fashion, I would. We'll see what happens.
As Arrow was aging and now ending this month, we put Batwoman on. We understand that there's age limitations to these shows. As they change, we go to the next cycle. As long as you have good tentpole product to go with, you're in good shape.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.