The female-skewing CW will seek more male viewers this season with darker shows including "Arrow" and the midseason show "The Cult," network president Mark Pedowitz said Monday.
That doesn't mean viewers will overdose on testosterone. The network is also developing female-centric comedies — and promises another "Muppets" special following the success of one last season.
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Speaking at a Television Critics Association panel, he said the CW hopes that the young men who used to watch "Superman" will tune in for the new DC Comics-inspired "Arrow." The darkness of its "Beauty and the Beast," starring "Smallville" alum Kristin Kreuk, may also appeal to young men, though it is a romance at heart that should appeal to young women, Pedowitz said.
The network is revamping this season after its ratings slipped last season. It has blamed the fact that many CW viewers watch its shows online instead of on television, and has launched a new campaign to pull viewers back to TV.
But it is also making a subtle bid for male viewers. While many of its shows merge melodrama, music and fashion to lure young women, this season's "Arrow," "Beauty" and "The Cult" are grittier than the CW norm.
The network has long identified itself as targeting women 18-34. But lately Pedowitz has called it simply "an adult 18-34 network," as he did on Monday.
Despite the incursions of manliness, CW's schedule remains dominated by female-focused shows, including "Hart of Dixie," "Top Model," "Gossip Girl," and the upcoming "Emily Owens, M.D" and midseason "Sex and the City" prequel "The Carrie Diaries." Its biggest hit, "The Vampire Diaries," features two good-looking male vampires; "Supernatural" finds studly brothers battling the forces of evil.
Pedowitz said he hoped "Arrow" might draw women just as those shows do, despite its comic-book roots, violent action scenes and dark feel. Women, he noted, seem to like Stephen Amell, who plays the titular hero.
He also vowed more "Muppets." Last year's Nov. 30 airing of "A Muppets Christmas" gave the network its most-watched Wednesday night in a year.
"There'll be more Muppets this holiday season," Pedowitz promised.
While the network is developing its first comedies, they won't necessarily appear on the air, Pedowitz said. The CW may use its online presence to its advantage by showing the comedies online.