The CW's Netflix-Viewing Questions: Is It Cannibalization?

Worries about traditional TV networks losing viewers to digital platforms like Netflix can be stronger for networks that cater to young TV viewers. The CW might be a poster child for this concern.

Still, during the Television Critics Association meeting, Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW, was unfazed concerning a new Netflix deal the network made for reruns of its programming.

"We believe that it will not have an effect,” he said, about the concern that viewers that might move away from linear TV. ”People who want to watch in season, talk about [it] in season, they're going to watch...  From a consumer proposition, it allows people to come and look at our series as soon as possible, if they want to catch up at the end of the year.”

Pedowitz also believes Netflix is a promotional tool for the CW -- that is, viewers will come back to a new season of CW shows after binge-watching.



But now look at the bigger picture. A few years ago, The CW was a money-losing enterprise. Then in 2011, a Netflix deal was made and the network became an immediate profitable enterprise.

Still, executives at the CBS-Warner Bros. network had initial doubts about possible erosion from digital platform pacts. So the first Netflix deal was carefully constructed: You could view previous seasons of CW shows on Netflix, but only a full year after the most current season has been completed.

Now, you only need to wait eight days after season finales of shows on CW network to see the most recent season.  Does this tell you traditional TV network executives are less concerned about possible cannibalization? Seems so.

The larger picture also would tell you that new influx of money from the likes of Netflix gives The CW more resources when it comes to all-important program development.

Still, CW might be a harbinger of where traditional TV and young TV consumers are going: Devices, platforms, and, most importantly, TV consumption trends among young TV consumers are still in flux.

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