The CW’s Chief Doesn’t Care When or Where Audiences Watch His Shows

Mark Pedowitz reexamines network's streaming strategy

Most network heads are pulling their hair out over the decline of linear ratings, but not The CW president Mark Pedowitz. He doesn't care when or how audiences watch his network's content, as long as they do watch.

"The CW has always been: great, watch us on linear, watch us on live plus same day, but just watch us. Our point of view is, if you missed it, come see it on , come see it on DVR, come see it on digital. Just come see it and talk about it," Pedowitz said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "I just want the consumer and the audience to feel that they can find the show wherever they can find it."

That's partially because Pedowitz has seen a "Netflix effect" help prop up later seasons of his shows like The 100.

But despite the ratings bump that The CW sometimes receives from its streaming video on demand (SVOD) partners like Netflix and Hulu, Pedowitz says the network is reconsidering its streaming strategy as those output deals, which were made four years ago, begin to expire later this year.

"We're now at this great place, thanks to the strength of the schedule and the strength of the shows, that we're now [are] exploring many, many many of our options, and there are many entities that are quite interested in the CW product. So we're going to continue to explore where that plays out, and it could play out in many different forms," said Pedowitz. "Probably within the next 6 to 9 months, we will have a new strategy to go forward with."

Both internal and external options are on the table. "We're exploring all those alternatives and options with our corporate parents," he said.

As he rolls out a third superhero show on the network—DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which debuts Jan. 21—Pedowitz said while there are no current plans to add a fourth show, he's not opposed to it, either. "I don't believe we have seen a stoppage of people watching these shows…so I'm very comfortable about that," said Pedowitz, adding that if executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg come up with new ideas, he's game.

(However, Berlanti recently told Adweek  that Legends will mark the end—at least for now—of his superhero series run. "I can very easily justify how each one of those shows is very different and distinct from the other," he said of Legends, The Flash, Arrow and his CBS series Supergirl. "But I couldn't honestly tell you there's some other show we would have the energy to participate in at this point that would feel distinct from those.")

Pedowitz has moved long-running drama The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals, to Fridays for midseason, but said the scheduling shift doesn't necessarily mean that he's preparing to end those series. "The move to Friday night is not a move to exile it, it's a move to strengthen Friday night," said Pedowitz, who cited a "strategic male shift on Thursday night" with The 100 and Legends. He had previously told Adweek that ABC's female-skewing TGIT lineup had dented the performance of his Thursday shows, which was the only night not to see ratings increases last season.

With Vampire and Originals on Friday, the network now boasts "the best schedule since I've been on The CW, ever," said Pedowitz.

The network president is also optimistic about the critically-acclaimed, yet abysmally-rated (just a 0.3 in the adults 18-49 demo) show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. "I wish the numbers were better, but we have the goods on this show," said Pedowitz, noting that star Rachel Bloom is nominated for a Golden Globe tonight. "We believe there's a place on our schedule for a show like this…you can't beat quality like this."

Pedowitz is already looking ahead to next season, where the little network that could reaches a major milestone. "It will be the 10th anniversary of The CW, which I'm proud to say has defied a lot of odds," he said.

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