UPDATED: Speaking at CBS’ TCA presentation yesterday, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was asked about the sustainability of the CW as a business given its low ratings. “The CW as an entity may lose some money,” Moonves acknowledged. “However, CW is owned by two companies that produce the shows. The shows bring us more revenue than the losses do. So it’s still valuable, and there’s still a marketplace for it.” The revenue Moonves was referring to comes from the monster deal Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios have with Netflix for the streaming rights of its older CW series. The CW itself gets an extra (albeit smaller) revenue stream from Hulu, which airs recent episodes of the CW’s current series. Asked for comment at the CW’s executive session today, the network’s president Mark Pedowitz was careful in his response. “I pay particular attention to Leslie’s comments,” he quipped. “Our parent company is very happy. Within the ecosystem of the entire company, it is a profitable venture. We are a platform.” He later was asked whether the CW could survive should the Netflix deal go away. “I believe we can survive in some form,” he said, noting that for online viewing “serialized programming is a necessity; that’s where it thrives.”
Pedowitz had indicated in the past that improv comedy Whose Like Is It Anyway? signaled the CW’s entrance into comedy programming and its success could be used to usher in half-hour scripted comedy series. Whose Line launched well and has already earned a second season renewal, but Pedowitz said he still hasn’t made up his mind about developing half-hour comedies. “We are reexamining whether to do comedy and comedy reality,” Pedowitz said. “We have the platform to build on (with Whose Line).” After the session, he added that “the game plan (for Whose Line) is if we can we’ll try to bring it back next season… Because then we can also launch another half-hour. But development of half-hours take time. The game plan now is to warm it up and make it work.”
Age came up multiple times during the session, with critics pointing to the ages of the performers on Whose Line and as well as Pedowitz’s given the CW’s young skew. Pedowitz’s response: “Funny is funny” (On Whose Line) and “I’m young at heart” (about himself)
After the panel, Pedowitz also was asked about the level of confidence in his development team’s ability to generate new projects given that the network is spinning off The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and Arrow. “Oh I have great confidence,” Pedowitz said. “We have a certain amount of money. This is a great way to develop within the context of your series. Here we get to do both: develop plus use these shows as launchpads.”
Pedowitz touched upon ratings as the CW had been looking for a new system to reflect the large portion of digital viewing but introducing such system seems far off, he said. Pedowitz also was asked about serialized midseason drama Cult, which never got traction. (Some say it was overshadowed and even cannibalized by the strong launch of another dark serialized midseason drama, Fox’s The Following.) “Cult was a swing, it missed,” Pedowitz said.
Pedowitz has never shied away from declaring his fondness for the CW veteran Supernatural, he even walked on stage today to Kansas’ Carry on My Wayward Son, which plays a major part on the show. During the session, Pedowitz dismissed suggestion that the upcoming Supernaturalspinoff could spell the end of the mothership series.”I’d love for Supernatural to continue as long as it can continue, as long as the fan base is there and the ratings are there.”
A bit of news: the final six episodes of Nikita are on track to launch in late November/early December, likely culminating with a two-hour series finale.