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CW looks to Netflix to kick up visibility

Promo value lies in attracting viewers, enticing creatives

Warner Bros. and CBS execs are giddy about the big payday promised by the Netflix licensing pact for CW shows. But there are also great expectations that the deal will yield bigtime promo dividends to CW — both with viewers and in the creative community.

The hope is that the increased exposure for CW shows among Netflix’s more than 25 million subscribers will bring new viewers to the latest episodes airing on the network, as has often been the case when a series that is still running new segsrunning new segs in primetime bows in syndication. CW brass are also banking on a residual marketing value in getting the net’s brand front and center with the younger auds that tend to be the most avid users of Netflix’s streaming service.

“It’s such a great fit because the demographics of Netflix and CW are so similar,” said Rick Haskins, CW’s exec veep of marketing and brand strategy. “From a marketing perspective, anytime you can get the CW name and our shows’ names out there in a different venue it can only help.”

The premium that Netflix is paying for the early syndication window on CW shows should also go a long way toward convincing writers and other creative talent that it is worth their while to field shows to the network. Heretofore, shows from CW, and its WB Network and UPN predecessors, have failed to generate much coin in traditional off-network syndication or through international licensing.

As much as net execs were cheering the news of the Netflix windfall on Thursday, CW can’t take to its own air to tubthump the availability of the shows. The network can’t afford to alienate its TV station affiliates, particularly its core Tribune Broadcasting partner, with on-air marketing pointing viewers to Netflix, even though the deal does not involve current-season episodes.

Haskins has no doubt that Netflix will be an ideal forum for encouraging viewers to sample CW’s serialized dramas, which lend themselves to the kind of marathon viewing that many users seek from Netflix.

“It’s the way our viewer consumers media these days,” Haskins said. “It’s the ‘I want what I want and I want it now generation.’ Netflix is a perfect way to answer that request.”

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