CW Chief Blames Shonda Rhimes, ABC for Network’s Sluggish Thursday Ratings

TCA 2015: “They made it tougher,” Mark Pedowitz says. “There are very similar audiences being appealed to.”

The CW President Mark Pedowitz, TCA 2015
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The CW’s President Mark Pedowitz spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday, shortly after his network announced the renewal of eight of its dramatic series. He said live ratings weren’t the most important factor in deciding renewals and credited Shonda Rhimes and ABC with making it difficult to attract Thursday night viewers.

“They made it tougher,” Mark Pedowitz told TheWrap during his TCA session. “There are very similar audiences being appealed to, but we have a huge digital component in delayed viewing.”

Rhimes and her Shondaland banner are responsible for three highly rated hours of Thursday drama: “Grey’s Anatomy,” Scandal” and freshman series “How to Get Away with Murder.” The CW’s Thursday offerings, which include period drama “Reign” and mainstay “The Vampire Diaries” haven’t fared as well.

As TheWrap previously reported, many of the network’s scripted series rank near the bottom in terms of live viewership and ratings share, including “Reign” which averaged a 0.6. But. Pedowitz believes The CW’s shows succeed in delayed viewership, even when the live viewing numbers don’t stack up with the other networks.

“We have a huge digital component in delayed viewing,” he said, citing a 23 percent grown in digital viewing and growth in Video On Demand. “We’ve monetized our delayed component.”

Pedowitz also thinks his network’s dramas, which range from sci-fi post-apocalyptic (“The 100”) to adaptations of telenovelas (“Jane the Virgin”), to superhero-based (“The Flash,” “Arrow”) series exceed artistically.

“For us the shows were creatively quite strong. We believe in them,” he said.

Two of The CW biggest successes in 2014 were new dramas. “Jane the Virgin” was nominated for two Golden Globes, including Best Comedy Actress in star Gina Rodriguez, and “The Flash” gave the network its best premiere ratings ever.

He said The CW wants to give low-rated “Jane the Virgin” time to find an audience and hopefully the nominations and critical support will drive viewers.

Regardless, Pedowitz thinks things are moving in the right direction.”I’m very proud of where we’re going. We’re the only network in the last 2 years that have grown our numbers,” he said.

Still, the network president doesn’t expect to catch his competitors overnight.

“I’d like [The CW] to be No. 1,” he said. “But, you have to be realistic.”

Here are other highlights from the session.

On a “Supernatural” spinoff: “I’ve been pretty outspoken in wanting another ‘Supernatural’ spinoff. It’s really in creators Jeremy Carver and Eric Kripke and Bob Singer’s court.”

On not bringing on “Supergirl” series: Pedowitz said The CW was aware of “Supergirl,” but the network didn’t want to become just one thing and he’s happy CBS bought it. At the same time, he says that they’re exploring ways to expand the “Arrow”/”Flash” universe.

On next “Arrow”/”Flash” crossover episodes: The network plans to have them once a year in the fourth quarter.

On renewing poorly rated “America’s Next Top Model” for Cycle 22: Pedowitz said it’s still performing well and doing “phenomenally” digitally. The next cycle will continue with both male and female competitors.

On whether this is the final season of “Hart of Dixie”: “Not necessarily,” Pedowitz said. He wants to see the ratings and how it plays with “Jane the Virgin.”

On the return of “Beauty and the Beast”: Pedowitz said it will air during the summer.