One of the ways the CW makes money for its two owners, Warner Bros. and CBS, is through the rich SVOD deal for their CW’ series the two supplying studios, Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios, have with Netflix. But with CBS and new Warner Bros. parent AT&T both laying out big streaming ambitions for Warner Media’s upcoming OTT platform and CBS All Access, will the CW shows remain on Netflix or would each co-parent would want theirs for their own platform?
“There are no real discussions that have occurred,” the CW president Mark Pedowitz said during the network’s TCA presentation. “I believe the parent companies will sort it out amongst themselves. But one thing we do know is that the CW project and product is well sought out. They performed extremely well out of season for Netflix.”
While the completed seasons go to Netflix, the in-season episodes stream on CW.com with ads, and that has been as successful for the network, Pedowitz said. “The shows performed extremely well for us in the in‑season pace, making us the premium ad VOD service around. Free. No need to authenticate. No need for cable or satellite service. And coupled with CW Seed, we’ve managed to go into this ad VOD space better than anybody else.”
Because of the strength of digital viewing, accompanied by ads, “despite the linear shortfall in ratings that you see, we’re up year to year by 3 to 5 percent in the amount of impressions we serve for the advertisers when you go across all of that platform,” Pedowitz said.
He also provided a status report of the network’s efforts in diversity and inclusion. About 2/3 of the CW’s series are created by women or people of color. All of the CW’s pilots last year were written by women or people of color, and of the five picked up so far this year, four are created and executive produced by women. Additionally, the first pilot directing assignment this season, Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, went to a female director, Maggie Kiley. Of the series regulars on the CW’s freshman shows, 78% are women or people of color.
This season, the CW reclaimed Sunday night for network programming. And the network may not stop here.
“I always have thoughts about expanding further. The nature of the beast, you want more when you’re successful,” Pedowitz said. “Sunday’s been an unqualified success for us. For the affiliates it’s been an unqualified success. They’re up 300 percent year-to-year from their 18‑49. For our parent companies, it’s an unqualified success. It’s more product that goes into the stream of what we do for distribution. It has enabled us to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time, open up a night. It’s enhanced our digital presence in ways I never thought could be possible. It has also enhanced ‑‑ having that crossover start with “Supergirl” or “Flash” on that Sunday night gave us another base. It enabled us to, a little bit differently, to actually do a live event just this month on the “Critics’ Choice.” It’s been a winner across the board, and I’m proud to say it. We have not had further discussions internally yet or at the board level about whether it will expand, but there are possibilities. We’ve proven we can do it. Just need the right programming.”