The CW is making big changes to its fall schedule, leaving only one night unchanged as it launches a Dynasty reboot and—as several other broadcasters are also doing—a military drama.
The network revealed the new lineup, which The CW president Mark Pedowitz called “our strongest schedule ever,” shortly before its upfront presentation this morning at New York City Center.
Last fall, the network kicked off Monday though Thursday with its four superhero series, but it’s rejiggering its lineup to help launch Dynasty and respond to NBC’s decision to move This Is Us to Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Supergirl remains on Mondays at 8 p.m., leading into new military drama Valor, about an elite group of U.S. Army helicopter pilots dealing with the aftermath of a botched mission to Somalia.
Valor is one of several military-themed shows that the networks picked up this week, but Pedowitz insisted that The CW is not playing “follow the leader,” as he’s been trying to launch a military drama since he arrived at The CW six years ago. After two failed previous attempts, “this was the best version of what we could do,” he said.
Tuesday’s all-superhero lineup, created in midseason when DC’s Legends of Tomorrow shifted to air after the network’s biggest hit, The Flash, remains unchanged.
Wednesdays, which had been home to Arrow for the past five seasons, will make way for Riverdale at 8 p.m., followed by its reboot of ’80s soap Dynasty, from The O.C. and Gossip Girl producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
Picking up Dynasty “was a no-brainer,” said Pedowitz, adding that Schwartz and Savage “delivered on what they promised to do: to put a new twist on a show that existed 30 years ago.” He later promised buyers at the presentation that the series “is going to be deliciously decadent.”
Other recent CW reboots like Melrose Place and 90210 have included actors from the original shows, and “if the storyline works and people’s schedules work, we are completely open to” bringing on Dynasty alums, said Pedowitz. “We would love Miss Collins to come on board at some point, if everything works out.”
The CW will prep viewers for Dynasty by streaming the complete series of the original Dynasty on its digital network, CW Seed, beginning on Aug. 1.
The show’s time slot is a nod to the original Dynasty, said Kevin Levy, svp, program planning and scheduling: “It’s the right place for that show on our schedule, so it’s nice that there’s that parallel there with the original show.”
Supernatural returns Thursdays at 8 p.m., now paired with Arrow, on a new night and time. “Superhero shows seem to withstand the NFL pretty well,” said Pedowitz of the Arrow move, adding, “it’s a very different show than This Is Us,” which will also move into that time slot this fall.
On Friday, the network has paired up its critically-acclaimed yet low-rated series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which moves up an hour, and Jane the Virgin, which shifts over from Mondays. Pedowitz said that Jane the Virgin is a strong performer in digital and delayed viewing, so “it was the right move for us,” as it opened up a slot on Monday to launch Valor.
Valor and Dynasty “add demographic balance to our schedule,” said Pedowitz.
Waiting in the wings for midseason are The CW’s fifth superhero series, Black Lightning, about a New Orleans high school principal who returns to his life as a superhero who can control electricity, and Life Sentence, which stars Pretty Little Liar’s Lucy Hale as a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer who finds out she’s not dying after all and now has to cop with the rash of life choices she made when she thought her life would soon be over.
While The CW will have five superhero shows in its stable next season, Pedowitz said the network plans to never have more than four on the air at one time, to allow for a healthy mix of non-superhero shows. He noted that Black Lightning is “unique” and will exist outside “the Arrowverse,” which contains the network’s other four superhero series.
With new superhero series ordered for next season on ABC, Fox, Syfy, Freeform and Hulu, in addition to all the ongoing shows, Pedowitz says he’s not worried about genre over-saturation. “We believe we have the best superhero programing around everywhere,” he said. “This programming will last as long as people want to watch it.”
At the presentation, Pedowitz told buyers that the network’s combined live-plus-7 and digital numbers are up versus a year ago in all the key demos, and The CW’s median age drops significantly from on-air (45) to video on demand (34) to digital (26).
Muse kicked off the upfront by performing their new song “Dig Down,” which will be the theme to The CW’s summer image campaign.
The CW FALL 2017-18 SCHEDULE
(New programs in ALL CAPS)
8-9 p.m. — Supergirl
9-10 p.m. — VALOR
8-9 p.m. — The Flash
9-10 p.m. — DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
8-9 p.m. — Riverdale (new time slot)
9-10 p.m. — DYNASTY
8-9 p.m. — Supernatural
9-10 p.m. — Arrow (new time slot)
8-9 p.m. — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (new time slot)
9-10 p.m. — Jane the Virgin (new time slot)
BLACK LIGHTNING, iZombie, LIFE SENTENCE, The 100, The Originals