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The CW is sticking with what works: its entire scripted lineup.
The younger-skewing network has handed out early renewals for 11 of its series: Arrow (season five), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (season two), Legends of Tomorrow (season two), The Flash (season three), iZombie (season three), Jane the Virgin (season three), The Originals (season four), Reign (season four), Supernatural (season 12), The Vampire Diaries (season eight) and The 100 (season four).
That is all 10 of the series currently on the air plus Reign, which returns next month. The network is not revealing episode counts, or when each of the series would be slated, as its president, Mark Pedowitz, remains committed to a year-round schedule that includes making a bolder push with originals in the typically lower-rated summer period.
“The CW has become home to some of the most critically acclaimed shows on broadcast television, with a wide array of fantastic scripted series across the week, ranging from musical comedy, to superhero action, to gritty sci-fi dramas,” Pedowitz said in making the announcement Friday. “As we continue to further our strategy of more year-round original programming, picking up these 11 series for the 2016-2017 season puts us in a great position of having proven, high-quality shows to launch in the fall as well as midseason and summer of 2017.”
Still to be determined is the fate of Julie Plec’s midseason drama Containment, which premieres in April.
The renewals come as The CW has found stability in programming with DC Comics fare including midseason debut Legends — likely an anthology with different castmembers floating in and out from both The Flash and Arrow. The latter pair have helped bring stability to the 8 p.m. hour and open both Tuesdays and Wednesdays. With the three pickups, executive producer Greg Berlanti will have at least four shows on the 2016-17 schedule including NBC’s already renewed Blindspot. (His NBC sophomore The Mysteries of Laura and CBS freshman Supergirl are awaiting news of their fates, though the latter is expected to return.)
The Flash, meanwhile, ranks as the most watched series in the network’s history. The network is up 56 percent in total viewers and 30 percent among the coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The DC fare has also helped The CW broaden its viewership with women accounting for 52 percent and men 48 percent. That’s a big change from 2011 when the network skewed 70 percent female. Flash (2.3 million), Legends (1.7 million) and Arrow (1.6 million) rank as the network’s top three series among adults under 50 when factoring in seven days of delayed viewing.
The Vampire Diaries — whose renewal was said to hinge on star Ian Somerhalder returning — and spinoff The Originals were moved to a Friday block where the pairing has helped improve the network’s year-over-year draw.
For their part, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin may lack ratings but make up for it with critical appeal. The Monday dramedies have netted stars Rachel Bloom and Gina Rodriguez back-to-back Golden Globes. While Crazy may be broadcast television’s lowest-rated show, Pedowitz — in a rare move for a broadcaster — has preached patience with the series and remains committed to allowing both shows time to find a larger audience.
The 100, meanwhile, has become a critical favorite. Paired with Legends on Thursdays, it has helped the network grow 56 percent in total viewers and 30 percent among adults under 50 in the first quarter year-over-year.
While The CW’s lineup may leave little room for new series, insiders say the network will follow a similar pickup strategy from the 2015-16 season when it added three new series (including two for midseason). This season, the network picked up six pilots — including Berlanti’s Archie Comics take Riverdale, a sci-fi entry from Vampire Diaries‘ Kevin Williamson and another hourlong dramedy (No Tomorrow) from Jane the Virgin producers. That’s up two year-over-year.
The pickups come as The CW has already said farewell to summer staple America’s Next Top Model and has the final season of Beauty and the Beast due in June. That opens up the summer to be a home for more scripted (and potentially unscripted) fare, further justifying the network’s decision to renew effectively its entire scripted lineup.
The CW joins ABC, Fox and NBC in handing out early renewals for its series. ABC recently renewed 15 series under new network president Channing Dungey, while NBC is returning all of its Dick Wolf series as well as The Blacklist and Blindspot; Fox, meanwhile, has already announced the final season for Bones and granted early pickups to Empire, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons and Scream Queens. CBS, which has yet to renew the bulk of its lineup, recently picked up NCIS and has comedy The Big Bang Theory set for its tenth season. Keep up with all the broadcast renewals and new series orders with THR‘s handy guide.
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