The CW Boss On Net’s Long-Term Future, Possible Thom Sherman Replacement ‘Supernatural’ Fate & ‘Riverdale’ Upside

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Noting right off the bat that this was his seventh consecutive summer TCA press tour, the CW president Mark Pedowitz became unusually reflective during the network’s executive session.

“I have had more fun than I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he said at one point. “You have your normal business frustrations, but this particular job for me exorcised a lot of demons in my own system. I’m proud of what we did for the CW in terms of transitioning the perception. When I came out here at the beginning, most of the questions were, ‘Are you still going to be in business’. Today, this is a healthy, strong creative platform that seeks quality material and will continue to do so. I have a sense of pride, joy, reflection, and I feel like I’m at my own memorial.”

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Pedwoitz also was asked to comment on the ongoing industry consolidation and the prospect of smaller networks going away in the  process. He made sure to separate broadcast from cable. “All I can tell you, for many years, they’ve said that broadcast is dead. Broadcast is far from dead. Cable is going through contraction. Viacom said they are doing it, Discovery too. There will be contraction but there is one thing I’m confident about — the CW is going to be around for a hell of a long time.”

Pedwoitz addressed the pending Sinclair acquisition of the CW’s largest affiliate group, Tribune. “In the six years I’ve done this job and prior to that, they have been great partners, and except for some local sports preemptions, they have not preempted us,” he said of Tribune. “I expect that to continue and have no reason to expect it not to.”

The CW is heading into the new development season without its long-time head of programming, Thom Sherman, who recently moved to CBS. Sherman and fellow new CBS topper Kelly Kahl were in Pedowitz’s spot on the TCA stage yesterday, facing tough questions from critics about the lack of diversity on that network’s shows. There are no immediate plans to replace Sherman, Pedowitz said today, giving a vote of confidence to SVP Development Gaye Hirsch, who added oversight of unscripted series development to her scripted duties following Sherman’s exit, and EVP current programming Michael Roberts.

“I miss Thom, I’m proud of him. He had his baptism under fire yesterday, I’m sure he’s wishing he was back with me for a second,” Pedwoitz quipped, referring to the rough CBS executive session. “That said, the team that Thom had, Gaye, now overseeing scripted and alternative, and Michael is probably the best current executive in the business, bar none. Right now, that is where we’re staying. I want to let them have their shot.”

Coming off a very strong development season, with all six CW pilots going to series — five on the network and one on Netflix — the network does not plan to do less development. The goal is to buy around forty scripts and do about six pilots, the average number it has done in the past few years. The CW already has one pilot set — Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters, a planted spinoff, which will be introduced in a Supernatural episode.

Speaking of Supernatural, which is entering its “Bar Mitzvah” thirteenth season, Pedowitz preemptively answered, without being asked, the perennial question about how long the genre drama would go. “As long as the boys want to do it and the ratings hold, it will go,” Pedowitz said.

He noted that the idea behind the addition of the female-centric Dynasty and Valor was to keep female viewers at the network following the end of The Vampire Diaries and Reign. 


Pedowitz also reflected on Riverdale‘s ratings, sharing some data on its digital performance on Netflix. The comic book-based soap was renewed for a second season after a soft start on the linear network. “I wish linear ratings were slightly higher but we have positioned ourselves as multi-platform network.” He said that the initial projections for strong delayed viewing numbers for Riverdale have come true. What’s more, “Now on Netflix, from anecdotal conversations we’ve had, it’s a big hit. There also is massive response on social media. I don’t care so much about linear ratings as long as people are watching it and if they can find it, we’re happy.”

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