The CW remains in the digital TV space -- but only as an ad-supported free service.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting, Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW, says the network will focus on ad-supported programming for its network and digital platforms.
“We made a conscious choice to be an AVOD [advertising video on demand] service,” says Pedowitz. “We felt there were not enough AVOD services out there.”
The CW app is available for free -- no subscription required -- on platforms including Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and XBox One, as well as mobile devices and its website.
Many TV networks are part of stand-alone digital service or part of new virtual (internet-based) pay TV providers.
For example, CBS’ CBS All Access is a limited commercial ad-supported service with a $5.99 a month subscription price. (It also has a $9.99 ad-free version.) CBS co-owns the CW with WarnerMedia.
Pedowitz says: “There is a limitation to how much people would pay. And, in addition, we did not have enough [programming] girth to offer the consumer something that made economic sense for them.”
When asked about CW’s share of advertising revenue, Pedowitz says “it’s over 50%.” Last week, CBS said its advertising now represents 61% of all its revenue -- the lowest it has been for the company. CBS has seen growing share revenues over the years from retransmission fees, carriage fees and content-licensing revenue.
Reaction to The CW adding a sixth night of programming, Sunday night, was positive among its TV station affiliates -- and advertisers.
“They were thrilled that we were making a positive statement about broadcast,” says Pedowitz. “So the sales team did great, and the advertisers went out and really supported us.”
With regard to the new WarnerMedia, structured under the ownership of AT&T through the Time Warner merger, Pedowitz said: “They allowed us to grow into a sixth night and hopefully a seventh. More importantly, they're happy with how we're growing.”