The CW Delays New Season to January, Will Air Mostly Acquired and Unscripted Shows in Fall

Network buys more time for its shows to resume production following pandemic

Superman & Lois
Superman & Lois is one of four new series The CW has ordered for next season, but it won't air until January.
The CW

The CW is usually the last broadcast network to release its fall schedule during upfronts week, but with so many media companies delaying their presentations due to Covid-19, the network ended up being only the second network to share its schedule this week, following Fox on Monday.

And much like Fox, The CW has opted to delay most of its shows to January—when its new TV season will “officially” begin, according to network chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz—and pack its fall lineup with a mixture of acquired shows and other series. That should help allay advertiser concerns that the prolonged production shutdown will leave the networks with few new episodes of shows to air in the fall.

“As we manage the current crisis, we’ve developed a methodical programming strategy for this year and well in to next that we believe works for The CW, our advertisers, affiliates and audience, while keeping the health and safety of our productions and creative partners front of mind,” said Pedowitz in a statement. “By moving our new season to January, we are stocking our fall with a balance of original and acquired scripted series and alternative programming that fits The CW brand and provides fresh programming through the fourth quarter.”

In March, the network canceled its in-person upfront, which would have taken place this morning as the last major event of upfronts week. It won’t be holding any kind of upfront replacement event, unlike some of its rivals, and is focusing instead on its usual conversations and presentations with clients to discuss its upfront strategy.

The network is stressing stability with advertisers after renewing 13 shows, almost its entire lineup, earlier this year. (Only one current series, Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, hasn’t been renewed for next season; the network hasn’t decided on that show’s fate yet.)

Its fall slate, meanwhile, will consist mostly of acquired shows that haven’t previously aired on U.S. linear TV and alternative programming that it usually airs in the summer, as well as the end of its long-running show Supernatural, whose 15th and final season was cut short by Covid-19 production shutdowns.

But while the network has included several acquired series on the fall schedule, guaranteeing fresh content in the fall, it also has included a few shows that won’t be able to air if production hasn’t resumed: Pandora, The Outpost and Two Sentence Horror Story—all of which typically air in the summer—as well as Supernatural, which hadn’t wrapped production prior to the March shutdown.

Additionally, The CW has also picked up four new shows for next season, all of which will be saved for 2021: Superman & Lois, which was the latest DC superhero show (and features character that have appeared on other shows, like Supergirl), drama The Republic of Sarah and reboots of Walker, Texas Ranger (called Walker) and Kung Fu.

Pedowitz said production will need to begin by September in order to make the January start dates. If that doesn’t happen, “we will continue to look for acquisitions” to stock the content pipeline.

Rob Tuck, evp, national sales, said his network is planning on being flexible with advertisers in the upfront marketplace. “We are fully prepared to sell multi-quarter beginning in fourth quarter,” he said, but if clients prefer to wait until January when the official season kicks off, the network will be open to that as well.

This fall, The CW will devote Mondays to new episodes of its summer shows Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Tuesday will bring a pair of acquired series that originally aired on streaming services: Swamp Thing, which ran for a season on DC Universe, and Tell Me a Story, which was recently canceled by CBS All Access after two seasons.

Recommended articles