TV Upfronts: The CW's Mark Pedowitz on the 'Supernatural' Spinoff, Comedy Plans

The network president on The CW's business model and his high expectations for comic book adaptation "The Flash."
Cliff Lipson/CBS
Mark Pedowitz

This is not your little sister’s CW.

The younger-skewing network has made meaningful gains in repositioning its image, and the viewership it attracts. Under the leadership of president Mark Pedowitz, The CW has successfully moved from narrower female fare (Gossip Girl, 90210) to a broader-appeal schedule lined with male-friendly genre programming (Arrow, The 100). In doing so, The CW has seen its 18-49 viewership grow 14 percent, year-over-year. (The net, which averages a 0.8 in the demo, still trails its broadcast rivals by a considerable margin.)

Pedowitz will undoubtedly highlight that shift when he meets with Madison Avenue buyers Thursday to introduce his new schedule, which includes more genre offerings such as The Flash and midseason entry iZombie. But before doing so, he talked briefly to the press about the strategy -- “We’re a very different CW than we were a few years ago,” he said -- and the decisions that led him to it. 

Below are the highlights.

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About That Pickup

Reporters couldn’t help but wonder how low-rated Beauty and the Beast garnered another pickup, while other shows including The Tomorrow People, from CW heavyweights Julie Plec and Greg Berlanti, got the ax. Pedowitz was ready with an explanation, noting that Beauty does well for The CW’s co-parent, CBS, both in terms of international sales and social media engagement. “We’ve always said we’re a very different type of broadcast network across the board. We have situations where shows such as Beauty and the Beast have great upside potential for our owners, so we look at these things as a way to get them out there,” he said, adding that Tomorrow People “just didn’t have the same level of social engagement nor digital side that Beauty and the Beast does get.”

Supernatural Spinoff’s False Start

Good news and bad news for fans of Supernatural. Pedowitz acknowledged that the planned Bloodlines spinoff, which aired as a backdoor pilot in late April, “just didn’t quite get there” creatively. (Had The CW picked it up, the network would have had spinoffs of three of their biggest shows.) That said, he believes there’s still potential in the brand, and plans to give the spinoff another try next year. Conversations as to, as Pedowitz put it, “what it is and what it isn’t” will not begin until the summer.

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The Scheduling Moves

Pedowitz wouldn’t come out and say he chose to put DC Comics adaptation Flash at 8 p.m. on Tuesday after ABC moved Agents of SHIELD to 9 p.m., but he did offer this: “Sometimes it's good to be opportunistic." He boldly predicted that Flash “will do very well” in the slot, and added that he didn’t have strong concerns about sturdy player Supernatural, which will compete against SHIELD an hour later. As for The Originals' move to Monday at 8 p.m., a challenging time period for the network, he noted that the Vampire Diaries spinoff was a “proven self-starter” and, given its female-skew, made a logical lead-in for femme-friendly newcomer Jane the Virgin.

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No Laughing Matter

The CW is not yet ready for a comedy block on its fall schedule. Pedowitz will be trying Backpackers, which was developed originally as an online series for CW digital studio Seed, in the summer, and if he can find another entry there, he’d consider an in-season move. Having Whose Line Is it Anyway? on his otherwise drama-heavy schedule, he said, gives him “the opportunity to try things” in the sitcom space.