CW's Strategy: Year-Round Originals, Digital Reach

Mark-Pedowitz-ACW President Mark Pedowitz outlined the TV network’s strategy for the coming season at its upfront presentation in New York Thursday morning.

The strategy boils down to a few components, Pedowitz said, including more year-round original programming. Also, taking a cue from popular young adult fiction, the network will continue to utilize as much “high concept” programming with as much broad appeal as possible. Think aliens, vampires and humans with extraordinary powers.

“It’s hard to make noise with smaller, softer shows,” Pedowitz said. He also said he prefers to develop scripted programs. That said, reality shows aren’t banished from the schedule. The summer is full of them, and "America’s Top Model" on Friday nights continues to have legs.

Another part of the strategy is keeping up with its digital savvy core audience and making sure CW programming is available across as many digital channels as possible. Pedowitz said "Vampire Diaries" was the “No. 1 social-scripted program on broadcast TV.”

On the digital front, the network is rebranding and upgrading its digital studio CWD. Later this summer, it will become CW Seed, a sort of digital and social media hub for the network. According to Pedowitz, the network envisions it as an “incubator” for new talent and digital programming concepts. Seven new Web series will be launched when the rebranding is unveiled, with details on the shows to follow.

Pedowitz reported that streaming was up 81% this season and that “more than 20% of our total audience comes from digital.” The company’s tablet and mobile apps have been downloaded 4.5 million times. CW programming recently became accessible via Windows 8 and XBox and soon it will be available via Apple TV, Pedowitz said.

Pedowitz said the network is even open to live streaming of shows. However, he added that CW would need to have a discussion with its broadcast affiliates around the country before it heads down that path.  

This summer, CW is unveiling three new programs, including the competition show “Captive," based loosely on the popular novel Hunger Games, where two teams out in the wilderness try to hunt each other down.  Also debuting is “Perfect Score," billed as a unique twist on “The Dating Game," and the return of the game show “Whose Line Is It Anyway”? Several existing shows will also return to the summer slate.

On the issue of C7, CW ad sales head Rob Tuck said the network has already done some scatter deals based on that metric, which some networks want as the official standard. The network has also done sales based on Rentrak set-top box data. “We’re open to it,” he said.

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