The CW, home of “The Flash” and “Arrow,” has a diabolical plan to keep viewers tuned in: Fewer repeats.
That may not sound earth-shaking, but it’s a bold move for the youngest-skewing broadcast newtork. A joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros., CW didn’t cancel any of its freshman series this season. And it’s about to pick up new series for its fall slate, which bosses will pitch to media buyers next Thursday at its upfront event in New York.
So where to put all those shows?
The CW doesn’t have a lot of real estate. The channel has no national lineup on weekends, and its weeknight primetime is just two hours long. CBS, NBC and ABC all go three hours on weeknights and four on Sundays. Fox does two hours weeknights and three hours of national programming on Sundays, while CW takes Sundays off.
The network could expand into weekends or lengthen weeknight prime. But there are problems.
Either move would be a complicated and ambitious maneuver. First, affiliate groups would need to be involved in discussions; at the moment, the local stations all individually program the weekends. Mark Pedowitz (pictured above) cannot unilaterally dictate; agreements would need to be renegotiated.
Cutting into local news would be problematic, because that’s generally the bread-and-butter for affiliates. Pedowitz and Co. would need to convince them that revenue potential for CW programming would be higher. Not a problem if we talk about the high-rated “Flash,” but somewhat dicier for a ratings-challenged series like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
Pedowitz would need assent from about 70 percent or 80 percent of the markets nationally for the move to make sense.
So instead, to pack in all this programming, the CW will use more year-round hours on originals, TheWrap has learned, and not every series picked up will go the traditional 22-episodes length. That means fewer summer reruns, which should increase the network’s circulation over the next few months.
Then again, the CW is still evolving, and one day we may be reporting Sunday night scheduling and ratings.
For now, we’ve got 2 hours per night, 5 nights a week, a potential 52 weeks per year — that’s 520 possible hours, plenty of time for a few more DC Comics series.
The CW’s upfront event is set for Thursday morning, May 19 at New York City Center.