New shows include "Star-Crossed," which is Romeo and Juliet with aliens
The CW's young-skewing audience has made it especially in danger of losing viewers to online — so the network is following them there.
At its upfront presentation to advertisers Thursday, the 18-to-34-focused network unveiled a new slate of dramas about beautiful young people in fantastical dillemmas. But it also addressed its own real-world problem of trying to hold onto an audience that increasingly watches TV on phones, laptops and tablets.
Last summer, CW announced the new slogan TV Now, designed to get millenials watching CW on TV again. This upfront, they designed to meet them online, too, promising a new platform for short-form videos called CW Seed and announcing a new deal to bring CW shows to Apple TV.
"We are reaching our audience everywhere they are, and we want you to be with us everywhere we go," CW president Mark Pedowitz told advertisers.
CW Seed will be incorporated into the main CW site, but will also stand alone. The digital-only platform will serve as an incubator to help the CW develop new talent, Rick Haskins, the CW's head of marketing and digital programs, told TheWrap.
"We have a younger audience, they're more digitally saavy and what they are learning is to watch shows when they want, how they want, and I think what we're trying to do is listen to the consumer and deliver to them program and entertainment the way they want," Haskins said.
The network unveiled a new slate that includes the "Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals," "The Tomorrow People," about young people with paranormal powers, and "Reign," about the young Mary, Queen of Scots.
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Its midseason shows include "The 100," about fugitives given a chance to repopulate earth, and "Star-Crossed," a kind of Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo is an alien.
Speaking to reporters after the upfront, Pedowitz explained the CW's decision to air "Reign" after the "Vampire Diaries," instead of creating an all-vampire Thursday by giving that slot to the "The Originals."
He said "Vampire" has the network's biggest concentration of female viewers, and that he believes "Reign" will skew strongly female.
"We wanted to give that show the biggest possibility of women coming to find it," he said.