The CW Renews 7 Series, Including Broadcast’s Lowest-Rated Show

President says acclaim can be more important than ratings

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Over the past couple of seasons, the CW has renewed almost all of its series in one fell swoop, and the network has continued that tradition for another year. 

Today, the CW picked up seven series for the 2017-18 season, including its four superhero shows: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Also renewed were Supernatural, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, broadcast television's lowest-rated show. The CW president Mark Pedowitz made the announcement today during the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. 

While seven is a large number of shows to pick up at once, it's down from last year's renewal, when the CW renewed all 11 series it was airing at the time. That's partly because the network opted not to pick up either of its new fall entries, No Tomorrow and Frequency, both of which averaged below a 0.3 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic. 

Pedowitz said he never intended to order more than 13 episodes of either fall show this season, given that he had five shows to debut at midseason (four returning shows and new drama Riverdale), unless one of them became a huge hit. 

While both show's linear ratings are low, Pedowitz said he'll wait to see how they do on Netflix, now that the full seasons will be available to air eight days after their season finale, per the CW's new streaming deal with Netflix.

"We'll be able to judge whether or not there's a binge moment, and see whether or not, come May, we should bring them back," said Pedowitz. While Netflix doesn't provide the network with ratings data, he said their studio partners have access to "initiated streams" metrics that give them a sense of how the shows are performing on the streaming service. 

Pedowitz renewed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend even though it is the lowest rated broadcast series, with just a 0.2 rating in the 18-49 demo. That show's pickup "has nothing to do with numbers," said Pedowitz, explaining that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, along with Jane the Virgin and the superhero shows, "have helped alter the perception of what the CW has become." 

The show is a ratings dud but a critics darling, and star Rachel Bloom is nominated for best actress in a tv series, comedy or musical at Sunday's night's Golden Globes (after winning the award last year). Explained Pedowitz: "Critically acclaimed, great programming, sometimes you just leave it on the air, and hope that it finds an audience." 

Pedowitz said that in the "peak TV" era, having critically acclaimed shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin "gives you a calling card."

The CW's lone midseason series is the high school drama Riverdale, which puts the Archie Comics characters in a soapy, Dawson's Creek/Gossip Girl environment, filled with murder, sex and plenty of secrets.

While the CW has moved away from the teen dramas that used to define it, Pedowitz said the network has broadened its audience enough that it can now return to the genre. And with Pretty Little Liars and Teen Wolf ending their runs on other networks, "we're looking forward to filling a need in the marketplace," he said. 

Pedowitz said the CW's new digital strategy—in which its programming no longer appears on Hulu, and the network now controls all of its digital ad sales via its CW apps and platforms—has already begun to pay off for the network.

"We are a very strong digital company," he said. "We have doubled our initiated streams from a year ago, we have doubled the amount of viewing we do, and almost doubled our ads served in that area. That has become now a very strong daypart for us." 

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.