STRATEGY: Pair up Supergirl and Jane the Virgin, load up midseason with proven shows.
The actors who portray several CW series superheroes, including Green Arrow, The Flash, Firestorm and Vixen, looked out from the upfront stage and wondered who was missing, just as Melissa Benoist, star of Supergirl, strolled onstage to join them.
Indeed, CW sees Supergirl as a perfect fit—and perhaps the missing link—for its brand.
Mark Pedowitz, The CW president, stretched out three simple words with great relish. “It… belongs…here,” he said.
Supergirl got off to a strong start at CBS, but tailed off in the ratings, and was never a right fit at the Eye. The show logically retains the Monday slot at its new home, followed by Jane the Virgin. Addressing the press hours before The CW’s upfront show, Pedowitz said there might be a ratings haircut for Supergirl, due to the network’s smaller reach than CBS’. But he’s tickled to have it nonetheless. “We believe it will be a strong performer,” he said. “We believe it will be one of our top three performers.”
The CW debuted just one show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, last fall, and the program is a conundrum—critically adored, Golden Globe winning, and starved for viewers. The Nielsen challenge will continue when Crazy Ex slides to Fridays, following Vampire Diaries.
Besides Supergirl, the network debuts two series this fall. No Tomorrow is a love story in which the male lead is quite sure the world will end in eight months, lives his life accordingly, and attempts to get those he loves to follow suit. (Cause of the world’s pending demise: an asteroid.) Pedowitz noted the “bluesky optimism” shading the series.
Frequency, a remake of the 2000 film, sees a woman communicate with her dead father through a ham radio, as the deceased dials in from 1996, just before he was killed.
The midseason brings about Riverdale, which is set in the world of Archie Comics, but appears to have little of the white-bread innocence that defined that franchise. A small town with secrets is as much a character as Archie and Betty. Superstar producer Greg Berlanti is shepherding that project.
“You might think you know them,” said Pedowitz of the Archie gang. “But you’ve never seen them quite like this.”
Other midseason shows include The 100, iZombie, The Originals and Reign.
Pedowitz noted the strides The CW had taken to level out its gender skew. Its audience is now 50/50 female-male, he said, after it was 70/30 just five years ago.
He also spoke of the network’s focus on year-round programming. “We now have the quality and the stability and the depth to program original series all year long,” he said.
Fall marks the 10th anniversary of the network, and Supergirl was something of a birthday present. Pedowitz said the wheels went in motion for the shift from CBS just a week and a half or so before the May 19 upfront presentation, all parties agreeing it was best.
“Just imagine what our superhero crossover episodes will look like in December,” he enthused.