Since joining the CW, Pedowitz has pushed to broaden its audience, shifting away from the targeted focus on young female viewers favored by his predecessor, Dawn Ostroff. In 2011, when Pedowitz took over the network, the CW’s audience was 70% female and 30% male. This season, the audience is 52% female and 48% male.
Even as the shape of that audience has shifted, its size has held steady. While other broadcasters have seen viewership steadily decline in Nielsen’s live-plus-same day numbers, the CW finished last season averaging 2.1 million primetime viewers — up 5% from the 2009-10 season.
While shows such as “Arrow” and “The Flash,” developed under Pedowitz, have helped broaden the CW’s appeal to male viewers, the network has also gained favor with critics and awards voters thanks largely to hour-long comedies featuring female protagonists. The CW has won back to back Golden Globe awards for best actress in a musical comedy — for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom this year and “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez in 2015. The latter was the network’s first-ever Golden Globes nomination and win.
Speaking with Variety in December following Bloom’s nomination, Pedowitz credited the awards recognition with burnishing the network’s brand.
“I think it takes a long time for people’s perception to change,” he said. “I think we’re still turning the corner.”
Pedowitz has steadily steered the CW toward serialized genre programming after arriving and realizing that many of the network’s female skewing soaps were faltering while drama “Supernatural” was performing strongly. The network’s top three rated shows in total viewers and in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo this season are DC Comics-based superhero series “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”
All three of those shows and “Jane the Virgin” are produced by Warner Bros., which owns 50% of the network. CBS, which produces “Jane the Virgin,” owns the other 50%. Much of the CW’s value to its parent companies comes from its role as a platform for seasons of series that, in a deal signed in 2011, become available on Netflix following their broadcast runs. That deal expired at the end of last year. In January Pedowitz confirmed that Warner Bros. and CBS are exploring a possible renewal of that deal in addition to other digital options.
“These shows have great economic value within a much larger ecosystem beyond the CW — there’s international sales, out-of-season streaming rights, syndication rights,” Pedowitz told Variety last year. But before those revenue streams kick in, he added, “you have to create shows that people want to see and talk about.”
Prior to joining the CW, Pedowitz served as president of ABC Studios from 2004 to 2009. He joined ABC in 1991 as senior VP, business affairs and contracts. His previous stints included roles at MGM/UA Television Production Group, the Landsburg Company and Reeves Entertainment.