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This story first appeared in the Jan. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The CW is moving quickly to capitalize on its strong buzz.
The youth-skewing network, fresh off its first Golden Globe win for Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez, is up 18 percent in total viewers this season, 11 percent in its core adults 18-34 demo and, perhaps most notably, 10 percent in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 metric. Thanks to freshman DC Comics take The Flash, the network is having its most watched season since 2011 and has narrowed its gender gap to 40 percent men — a 10 percent shift from 2010. Flash, spun off from the network’s hit Arrow and starring Glee‘s Grant Gustin, now stands as The CW’s most watched show and the highest-rated series among men in network history.
“We had a strategy, we stayed with the strategy. We recognized that what we were was a high-concept, genre, serialized comedy, serialized drama place,” CW president Mark Pedowitz told reporters Jan. 11 at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour after handing out early 2015-16 renewals for his entire fall slate, comprising Flash, Arrow, Jane, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Reign, Supernatural and The 100.
“The success of Arrow helped push one thing; the success this year of Flash and Jane helped another, and last year, The Originals, The 100 and Reign got us back going,” added Pedowitz. “So it’s been a brick-by-brick process, night by night, the old-fashioned way.”
It’s not all perfect. Despite the best comedy actress Globe, Jane has struggled in the ratings (though its Dec. 15 fall finale, which aired after the Globes noms were announced, was up 20 percent to a 0.6 rating in 18-49). But the network has delivered growth on four of the five nights it programs originals. Monday (Originals, Jane) is up a whopping 60 percent in adults under 50. And the network has posted gains in total viewers and the key demo on every night except Thursday, when ABC’s Shonda Rhimes block has taken a bite out of Vampire Diaries and Reign.
As for the immediate future, supernatural drama iZombie, from Veronica Mars‘ Rob Thomas and starring Rose McIver, premieres March 17, followed by the April 10 bow of apocalyptic drama The Messengers. Pedowitz is eyeing five or six pilot pickups and would like to find a family drama that could pair with Jane. Another Arrow spinoff from Greg Berlanti, maybe with Brandon Routh’s Atom character, also is possible. Pedowitz has big plans for summer scripted fare with holdover Beauty and the Beast and an even larger increase in originals in summer 2016 featuring another run at comedy (via digital incubator Seed).
“Hopefully today Cinderella won’t stop at midnight,” Pedowitz said before leaving TCA for The CW’s historic night at the Globes.
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