A new DC Comics character is being eyed at the CW.
At the network’s TCA session Tuesday, CW prez Mark Pedowitz confirmed the development of “Flash,” a drama project based on the DC character that will be seeded into the CW’s sibling superhero drama “Arrow.”
“We do want to expand upon the DC universe,” Pedowitz explained to the room of journalists. “We think they’re rich characters we can use, and this is an organic way of doing it.”
The introduction of a new superhero to the CW’s lineup offers the net another opportunity to draw in male auds that departed the CW once “Smallville” was canceled in 2011. Pedowitz remarked he is still looking to “broaden the adult 18-34 demo,” and bringing in shows like “Arrow” has helped slowly bulk up the male viewership for the CW once again.
“Flash” would be the umpteenth time the CW has leveraged a property with a pre-existing fan base as the inception point for a TV series. From “Gossip Girl” to “Sex and the City” to “Whose Line Is it Anyway,” along with spinoffs including “The Originals” and the recently announced “Supernatural,” Pedowitz recognizes that having a franchise already established “allows you to incubate” and “increases your development capability.” However, he is confident the net can launch a program cold without that borrowed equity, citing the success of “Hart of Dixie,” a dramedy that is currently entering its third season.
“Whose Line’s” rebirth on the CW has led to strong ratings, which means more comedy could be on the horizon at the net. Pedowitz dubbed “Whose Line” a “strategic comedy” and said sitcom development is in the works, although the prez sees the reality-comedy space as a genre that presently holds more potential for the net.
While the CW has seen upticks in ratings thanks to programs like “Whose Line” and “Arrow,” Pedowitz admitted his ambitious plan of rethinking the traditional Nielsen ratings system for his net was a product of his own “naivete.”
“It’s always a work in progress,” the topper explained. “I thought it would be easier to get done.”
Nevertheless, the CW keeps an eye on multiple platforms when it comes to tracking viewership, including Nielsen, Nielsen OCR, Rentrak and the barrage of digital numbers from streaming and VOD.
“Our online viewership is still a little over 20% and that continues to grow, as do our on-air ratings,” he noted. “We’re going into next season with far more shows that are building ratings than we have in the past.”
As for “Cult,” which existed as almost a blip on the CW’s lineup radar, Pedowitz called the drama “a swing” that “missed.” Though “The Carrie Diaries” has been moved to Fridays, the prez has “faith” in the “Sex and the City” prequel series and believes it’s a good pairing with “America’s Next Top Model,” which also lives on the CW’s Friday lineup.
“I hope when (‘The Carrie Diaries’) comes out on Netflix and DVD, viewership will rise,” Pedowitz said with optimism.
It isn’t just in building a fan base that Netflix is beneficial to the CW. The streaming site provides the CW with hefty license fees for its series that help keep the network afloat. When asked if the CW could “survive” without Netflix, Pedowitz said yes, but hopes it won’t come to that.
“I believe we’ll survive in some form and capability, and if Netflix decides it doesn’t want to be associated with CBS, Warner Bros. and CW shows, I hope there is another platform,” he said.