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Youngest Network Enjoys a New Age

STRATEGY: Satisfying the young base while leveraging recent breakthroughs with small dollops of new fare.

Following a season in which it launched three successful shows and finally won some respect from a broader base of audiences and critics, The CW’s upfront was more about celebrating than breaking news. “Applause is so nice,” network president Mark Pedowitz quipped to the vocal crowd at City Center.

In fact, the biggest news out of The CW’s May 14 event was how few new titles will be in the mix in 2015-16—just three shows, and one in the fall. The focus instead will be on cultivating newer hits like last year’s breakouts, The Flash and Jane the Virgin, as well as a deep bench of fan favorites that are showing notable staying power among a supposedly fickle young demo.

The fall premiere will be a gonzo, hour-long comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was initially developed at Showtime. It will air in front of Jane the Virgin.

Veteran shows Reign and The Originals are moving to new nights. At midseason, the CW will roll out its newest DC Comics-inspired series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and new drama Containment (formerly Cordon).

During a conference call with reporters ahead of the presentation, Pedowitz described Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as “the perfect companion piece” for Jane the Virgin, making Mondays a comedy-heavy night. It has Glee-like musical diversions and a loopy plot captured by its title. With the series being originally set up with Showtime, Pedowitz said “some modest language changes” were made, along with expanding it to an hour (the Showtime pilot was only a half-hour).

The CW will take a page out of ABC’s playbook and hand its Thursday lineup to Julie Plec, whose The Originals will air alongside the show it was spun off from, The Vampire Diaries.

Reign will make the move to Fridays and run with America’s Next Top Model. Pedowitz explained the move for Reign, which struggled on Thursdays this season, was done to get it away from ABC’s Scandal; Pedowitz also described Reign as an older-skewing show, which made it a better fit on Fridays. “We creatively believe in the show.”

Midseason entry iZombie will return in the fall at the same time, airing behind another rookie breakout in The Flash. Wednesdays will stay the same with Arrow and Supernatural. Though Supernatural is going into its 11th season, Pedowitz has no intention of ending the show.

Along with the bows of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Containment, drama The 100 will return at midseason. Pedowitz likened Legends—which will star characters from The Flash and Arrow—to The Dirty Dozen, since it features both heroes and villains banding together. Since Legends exists in the same universe as the other two DC Comics series, Pedowitz said they will look for crossover events between the three series when appropriate. On the heels of the highly rated Arrow-Flash crossover this season, Pedowitz announced during the upfront the two series will have a crossever event during every year’s fourth quarter.

Pedowitz shot down any speculation that The CW would save NBC’s canceled Constantine (another DC Comics based series). “There’s also a rumor going around that I was going to go play in the NBA,” he joked.