The CW‘s midseason drama The Carrie Diaries wraps its 13-episode freshman season tonight. With its pedigree as an offshoot from one of most recognizable media franchises of the last 20 years, Sex And The City, it was expected to be a slam-dunk. Instead, Carrie Diaries started slow and is finishing its run on the bubble. But while its TV ratings alone would’ve likely pushed the series toward cancellation, Carrie Diaries‘ very strong online play including on Hulu is making the renewal a possibility. What’s more, besides the three shows the CW already cancelled this season — veteran 90210 and freshmen Emily Owens MD and Cult — there is a chance that the CW returns all of its other series including Hart Of Dixie, Nikita, Beauty And The Beast and Carrie Diaries in some shape or form, including limited runs. (The CW’s strongest series, Arrow, The Vampire Diaries and veteran Supernatural, were already renewed in February.)
More than other networks’ series, the online performance of CW shows, most of which are serialized, plays an important part in the net’s renewal decisions. After all, episode streaming provides a key revenue stream for the CW. In addition to commercial-loaded play on the the network’s website, the CW’s current series are available on Hulu under a five-year, $75-million deal, while previous seasons of CW shows are on Netflix as part of the eye-popping four-year, $1 billion pact the two companies inked in late 2011. The Netflix deal in particular represents an incentive for the CW to keep shows on the air longer because that raises interest in previous seasons as evident by such current serialized cable series as Breaking Bad, whose older seasons became blockbuster hits on Netflix.
Of the CW series whose fate has not been determined, Hart Of Dixie seems to be the closest to a sure thing. It is worth noting that last season, it was Hart Of Dixie‘s big online play that helped seal its second-season renewal. Perennial bubbler Nikita, a very modest performer on Friday night, also is eying a return for a fourth season. I hear creator Craig Silverstein, who has a new pilot, Turn, at AMC, has closed a deal for a final installment of 6-13 episodes. Giving Nikita a final chapter also falls into CW president’s Mark Pedowitz’s goal to give the network’s series with devoted followings a proper ending. Additionally, Nikita ranks as one of the CW’s top series on social media and, because of its brand, has been a strong international seller for producing studio Warner Bros TV.
As for Beauty And The Beast, it will likely return for a second season. The reboot of the 1980s series was a pet project for Pedowitz and one of the first titles he put in development after taking the reins of the network in 2011. Additionally, with 90210 gone, it is the only current CW series from CBS TV Studios. Set up as a partnership between CBS and Warner Bros with CBS TV Studios and Warner Bros TV as its scripted suppliers, there always is a political element in the CW’s pickup decisions as it tries to strike a balance between its two parents/studio partners.
As for what CW pilots are hot early on, check my weekend post PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: The Early Buzz. Hint: The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals is likely marching to the fall schedule.