The addition of “Pushing Daisies” is the network’s latest effort to build CW Seed, which launched as a digital-studio sandbox in 2013, into a bigger business with new licensed and original content. “Pushing Daisies,” which aired for two season on ABC from 2007-09, will be available exclusively on CW Seed’s new Roku app for two weeks to promote the launch on the device, before coming to the web, iOS apps and Google Chromecast.
The goal: to establish CW Seed as a branded destination for millennials to watch nostalgic TV series as well as originals — and drive up ad revenue.
“We’re using the borrowed equity of the CW brand and audience, and providing them shows from the past that have been unavailable to them before,” said Rick Haskins, The CW’s exec VP of marketing and digital strategies.
“Pushing Daisies,” “The O.C.” and “Ben Stiller” were each produced by Warner Bros. Television. The CW Network is a 50-50 joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS. Those join Seed’s current lineup, which includes cheerleading dramedy “Hellcats,” the 1990 adaptation of “The Flash” and improv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
“We got requests for ‘The O.C.’ all the time, and the same with ‘Pushing Daisies,” Haskins said. “It’s really listening to the audience.” The shows have been available to purchase via digital-video services but until now have not be available on streaming services.
CW Seed also has more original shows in the pipeline. “The Elevator Talk Show,” a short-form series hosted by comedian Pete Holmes, is slated to launch Dec. 15; in each of the 40 episodes, Holmes interviews an up-and-coming comic during an elevator ride at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. Set for the first quarter of 2016 is “Saving the Human Race,” billed as a post-apocalyptic rom-com, and “Vampire! the Musical” (working title), from YouTube musical duo AVByte.
“Part of the pledge of CW Seed is reaching out and finding new talent,” Haskins said.
CW Seed now has a roster of about 40 advertisers. Haskins wouldn’t disclose viewing or financial figures, but said the service has doubled its audience in the past year. “I’m a little hesitant of taking my foot off the experiment pedal… but it has gotten a foothold into a business as opposed to an experiment,” he said. The network’s digital audience across CW Seed and TheCW.com has an average age of 22 versus 39 for on-air shows.
“Because we’re not SVOD, we’re free, we are gaining traction,” Haskins said. “For a millennial audience there’s an advantage to that.”
Compared with Sony Pictures Television’s Crackle — which also provides free, ad-supported premium entertainment — CW Seed relies on promoting shows through through Facebook fans of CW’s broadcast lineup. “We’re not spending a dime on advertising,” Haskins said.
For example, the fanbase for DC Comics-based “Vixen” was built on the back of “Arrow” and “The Flash” Facebook pages, according to Haskins, with more than 50 million impressions from those shows that drove viewers to “Vixen.” He added that CW’s “Vampire Diaries” has 25 million Facebook likes, providing a social-media marketing platform for “Vampire! The Musical.”