The CW has put an end to this spring’s most popular parlor game, announcing Thursday that longtime ABC executive Mark Pedowitz will take the reins from the departing entertainment president Dawn Ostroff.
Along with programming, Pedowitz will also oversee sales, marketing, distribution, finance, research, and publicity.
Pedowitz assumes the helm just three weeks before the CW’s May 19 upfront presentation. Ostroff will assist Pedowitz in his transition through the end of next month, when she plans to relocate to New York.
Ostroff is the most tenured of the five network entertainment chiefs, having steered the CW since its inception. Before that, she ran UPN for CBS under Les Moonves. Word that she would leave the CW at the end of this season began circulating just before Christmas.
Pedowitz left Disney-ABC TV in October 2010 after a 19-year stint with the company. In the final year of his term, he served as a special adviser to Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group.
He spent five years as president of ABC Studios, stepping down in January 2009 as part of Steve McPherson’s consolidation of ABC’s studio and entertainment units. During his time at the unit, he oversaw a roster of hits that includes: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty and Ghost Whisperer.
Pedowitz joined ABC in 1991 as an executive running business affairs and contracts.
Cobbled together from the now-defunct UPN (CBS) and the WB (Time Warner), the CW began broadcasting in 2006, and now targets a primarily female 18-34 demographic. Top shows include Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries, 90210, Supernatural and America’s Next Top Model––all of which were renewed earlier this week.
In the season-to-date, the CW has averaged 2 million total viewers in prime, flat versus a year ago. The net’s 18-34 numbers are off 10 percent versus the 2010-11 campaign, while adults 18-49 are unchanged.
One of Pedowitz’ first tasks will be to put together a fall schedule for the CW, which programs 10 hours of original content per week and has ordered a handful of pilots. In the long term, his greatest challenge will be to bring the network to profitability. According to SNL Kagan estimates, the net is on track to lose $57 million in 2011.