The CW is celebrating its 10th anniversary next month with a significant change. The network has stuck a deal with Netflix, whose subscribers will be able to stream full seasons of CW shows beginning eight days after their season finales.
The CW president Mark Pedowitz said at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in L.A. that he's not concerned the Netflix deal will pull viewers away from linear TV, though. "I believe that people who want to watch in-season are going to watch," he said, also noting that the Netflix deal means people who come to a show after the season have an almost immediate opportunity to binge-watch.
The network's deal with its other streaming service partner, Hulu, ends before the news season, meaning that The CW will have exclusive in-season streaming rights to its shows. Before the season begins, it will expand its CW app to Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire.
The CW's schedule includes critically acclaimed but low-rated shows like Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which "deserve to get picked up," according to Pedowitz. He explained that those shows, along with superhero series like Arrow and The Flash, have "redefined the identity of this network."
While Jane the Virgin's live-plus-same-day ratings dropped in Season 2, Pedowitz said the show's C3 rating was the same and that there was evidence of a Netflix lift from viewers who binged-watched the show's first season. Last season, Jane the Virgin was The CW's second most-streamed series, behind The Flash.
Pedowitz wasn't expecting to have Supergirl, which is moving from CBS to The CW this season, until the show was offered to him just prior to setting the fall schedule in May. "When Supergirl became available, I couldn't sign up fast enough for it," he said. Pedowitz knew immediately the network would need to keep the show in the same 8 p.m. Monday time slot it occupied on CBS last season. That required moving Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to Fridays.
Supergirl was drawing 6.1 million viewers at the end of its CBS run (and a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demo), and, Pedowitz said, "There is no question it probably will not do as well [on The CW]." But he feels it will be the network's No. 1 or No. 2 most-watched show, which is an upgrade from his May comments that it could be "one of our top three performers."
With Supergirl, The CW will now air four superhero shows this fall, including DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which debuted earlier this year. "We thought Legends last year did not perform as well as it should have," Pedowitz said. "We made some mistakes." But the show has corrected course this year.
There are "no real discussions" about adding a fifth superhero series, but Pedowitz said the door is open if any other characters break out from the four current shows.
Supernatural, which is entering its 12th season, shows no signs of fading on the network. "If the ratings hold, the show could outlast my tenure in this chair," Pedowitz said.
The Vampire Diaries is ending its run after this season, but spinoff The Originals could continue without it. "I'm hopeful that we'll see a fifth year," he said.
The CW now has 15 scripted series, which it can launch in fall, midseason and summer, offering year-round programming which Pedowitz said is important to advertisers, audiences and for the network's identity. "That's the right amount," he said.