“It’s a different world,” the CW President Mark Pedowitz said in an interview with Deadline, referring to the changing definition of a broadcast network. In the interview, the CW topper, who just extended his contract, also addressed the ratings performance of newbies Dynasty and Valor, pending changes on Dynasty, which is adding a strong mother-daughter dynamic with the casting of Nicollette Sheridan, the future of Supernatural, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the potential Supernatural and The Originals spinoffs and Riverdale‘s Sabrina the Teenage Witch companion series’ move from the CW to Netflix.
“We’re very much a multi-platform digital play,” Pedowitz said, “It’s exploded to a point where our linear ratings are down but we are basically flat when you look at a seven-day point of view — linear delayed and digital viewing on cw.com.” (The CW series, which also are carried by Netflix, air with almost full commercial load on cw.com, making that play virtually indistinguishable to advertisers from live viewing.)
One of the sturdiest CW ratings performer — linearly and digitally — has been veteran Supernatural, currently in its 13th season. It’s become a TCA tradition to check on the future prospects of the series, which has repeatedly defied expectations.
Noting that he and his CW team are not ready to announce renewal decisions yet, “next year would be Supernatural‘s 300th episode which is remarkable,” Pedowitz told Deadline. “That show will go on as long as it keeps going, the boys (stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) keep doing it and the ratings keep holding.”
This season, Supernatural is also tasked with introducing a potential spinoff, Wayward Sisters, starring the original series’ standout Kim Rhodes in an episode that airs a week from Thursday.
“I’ve seen it, I like it but the fans determine,” Pedowitz said. While the first attempt at a Supernatural spinoff, Bloodlines, “did not work at all, this one has an opportunity to work,” he said. “Nothing is perfect but the real question is whether fans will go watch it if the boys aren’t in it. I don’t know but it works, the characters work, Kathryn Newton is a real star, the actress who plays Donna (Briana Buckmaster) is hilarious.”
Pedowitz also gave an update on another spinoff that has been brewing, a The Originals/The Vampire Diaries offshoot centered around the character of Hope Mikaelson, the tribrid daughter of Niklaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall-Kenner. The series’ showrunner Julie Plec continues to work on the project, Pedowitz said.
Dynasty was the highest-profile new CW series this season, rebooting an iconic title with top auspices, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and Sallie Patrick.
Its ratings have been less than stellar, and the soap is being moved from Wednesday to the less-trafficked Friday in March. But Dynasty, which has a rich distribution deal with Netflix, received a full-season pickup and recently cast Desperate Housewives alumna Nicollette Sheridan as Alexis Carrington, the role played by Joan Collins in the original series.
“I’m disappointed in the ratings, I wanted it to do more, but I’m happy with with the production values that Josh, Steph and Sallie are doing,” Pedowitz said. “There are changes coming, I’m thrilled to have Nicollette, she will appear beginning with the 16th episode. I’m looking forward to Nicollette and Liz (Elizabeth Gillies who plays Fallon Carrington) really going at it as a mother-daughter situation, and I think that will add some juice to the show.”
Introducing Alexis, whose arrival at the beginning of Season 2 of the original series reinvigorated its ratings, and the casting of Sheridan was a key tweak that played a role in the decision to give Dynasty a Back 9 order.
Pedowitz, who worked with Sheridan on Desperate Housewives while he ran ABC Studios — he even was called to testify in Sheridan’s lawsuit against the series’ creator Marc Cherry — said he phoned her for the gig.
“I was big fan of Nicollette from way back when,” he said. “She wanted it, and she will be great in it.”
Tonally, Dynasty going forward “could shift a little bit to a mother-daughter play — a lot of it depends on the chemistry — but at the moment things are still in flux with what we will and won’t do. But I think there is a show there for the country to watch.”
The other softly rated new fall CW series, Valor, did not get a back order. It was one of three new military dramas to debut on the broadcast networks in the fall, along with NBC’s The Brave and CBS’ SEAL Team. Pedowitz, who shepherded Army Wives at ABC Studios, had long tried to launch a military series on the network.
“It did not resonate the way we’d hoped it would resonate,” he said. “I wanted to do one for 6-7 years; it maybe is a question whether the CW audience would come to a military drama for us. It did not help that there were 85 of them this year, I don’t think any of them did really well. I’m proud of what (creator Kyle Jarrow and producer Bill Haber) did, I will be in business with them again. We will take a hard look at everything in May for scheduling purposes.”
The look likely will not be as hard at the CW comedies Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriends. Pedowitz would not comment on their future but “I would say it looks pretty bright.”
He also addressed the upcoming Sabrina the Teenage Witch series. Originally set up in development at the CW as a companion to Riverdale, also based on characters from Archie Comics, the project was pulled from the broadcast network when it landed a 20-episode, two-season, straight-to-series order at Netflix early last month following a strong performance by Riverdale on the streaming platform. That in turn, has helped Riverdale‘s ratings on the CW climb in Season 2.
“I was aware, I was deeply involved with (WBTV president) Peter (Roth) on the whole thing,” Pedowitz said. “It was a decision which I understood from a business point of view. Netflix offered them a two-year deal, we weren’t going to do that. Netflix has had great success and should get some credit for helping us get Riverdale binged, and our guys get a lot of credit from bringing the guys who binged (on Netflix) back to the network and our digital site. I wish them the best.”
The CW has had another series about female witches, a Charmed reboot, in the works with Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman. Did that play a role in the CW letting Sabrina go?
The answer is no. “The real similarities between the two shows is witches. They were very different concepts in how they will be handled — one has Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s patina to it, one has Jenny Urman’s — very different storytellers, very different versions of what the show should be.”