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The CW has handed out a number of early renewals for its most prized scripted originals.
While the Mark Pedowitz-led broadcaster traditionally renews the bulk of its slate early, the network — which is currently up for sale by owners WarnerMedia and Paramount — has granted additional seasons for only seven of its 19 scripted originals.
Returning for the 2022-23 broadcast cycle are: All American (season five), The Flash (season nine), Kung Fu (season three), Nancy Drew (season four), Riverdale (season seven), Superman & Lois (season three) and Walker (season three). All American ranks as The CW’s most watched series, while a pickup for The Flash was expected after star Grant Gustin agreed to a new deal to return for what sources say could be an abbreviated final season of the DC Comics drama. Superman & Lois is said to be a top performer on HBO Max, while Walker features network favorite Jared Padalecki (with a spinoff series also in the works).
That leaves Batwoman, Charmed, Dynasty, In the Dark, Legacies, Legends of Tomorrow, Roswell, Stargirl and first-year shows All American: Homecoming, The 4400, Naomi and Tom Swift on the bubble. (It’s notable that Roswell, Stargirl and Tom Swift have yet to premiere.)
The CW was expected to issue a handful of renewals to its best-performing shows, so All American, The Flash, Riverdale, Superman & Lois and Walker were all considered a lock to return. The early pickups for Kung Fu and Nancy Drew were a bit more of a surprise, as both shows were considered to be on the bubble. Their early pickups represent a vote of confidence in their respective linear and digital performance.
“As we prepare for the 2022-23 season, these scripted series, along with the alternative series we renewed earlier, will serve as the start of a solid foundation utilizing some of our most-watched series for us to build on for next year and beyond,” said Pedowitz. “These dramas are also important to our overall digital strategy, as they are some of our most-streamed and socially engaged programming, and we look forward to adding more new and returning series to help strengthen and expand our multiplatform footprint.”
In the past few years, Pedowitz has renewed nearly all of The CW’s scripted roster and worked diligently to cultivate the younger-skewing network’s slate of year-round originals. That changed this year with The CW’s corporate backers, CBS Studios (a division of ViacomCBS/Paramount) and WarnerMedia’s Warner Bros. TV, looking to divest the network from their respective portfolios.
The CW was previously driven by revenue earned from the $1 billion Netflix deal that saw all of the network’s scripted series stream on the service. The CW opted to not renew that deal because Warners and Paramount wanted to stream their originals on their respective platforms, HBO Max and Paramount+. International revenue as well has largely vanished as those rights, rather than being sold off abroad and contributing millions to their respective studios, are now also being kept in house. Station group Nexstar is considered the frontrunner to buy The CW, though other suitors are also in the mix. A deal could come either before or after the upfronts in May.
In the meantime, The CW is looking to keep up business as usual, with Pedowitz handing out three pilot orders this year. While Nexstar knows how the shows on The CW perform, early indicators are that the station group — if a deal can be reached — could keep things business as usual in the immediate future and open its doors to buying from other suppliers beyond CBS Studios and Warners.
Still, a sale of The CW could — over time — change the face of The CW as it’s unclear what a potential buyer’s long-term plans could be.
It’s worth pointing out that of Tuesday’s seven renewals, five are from Warners with only two from CBS Studios. The CW previously had a mandate to have a 50-50 balance of originals from both studios.
Keep up with all the broadcast scripted renewals, cancellations and new series orders with THR’s handy scorecard.
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