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CW Chief Talks Sunday-Night Expansion, ‘Supernatural’ Future

The CW will add a Sunday-night primetime programming block this fall — expanding to six nights a week for the first time in 10 years. Speaking to reporters Monday at the Television Critics Association, CW president Mark Pedowitz spoke about the impact of the linear expansion, which will add two hours a week to primetime.

“We found a terrific reception” from advertisers for the expansion, Pedowitz said. “Between that and the affiliates, they were thrilled. They were thrilled that we had grown. They were thrilled that we were making a positive statement about broadcast. The advertisers went out and really supported us.”

He added that advertising now represents more than 50% of the CW’s overall revenue, and that the addition of Sunday-night inventory increased upfront ad revenue 15-20% from last year.

Pedowitz was asked whether the CW had ever considered launching an ad-free subscription service as other linear networks such as CBS and FX have. (The CW’s primary digital platform is a free, ad-supported service.)

“We discussed it in the past,” Pedowitz said of a subscription play. “We made a conscious choice to be an ADVOD service. We felt that there aren’t enough ADVOD services out there. There is a limitation to how much people will pay. In addition, we did not have enough girth to offer the consumer something that made economic sense.”

The CW passed this spring on the pilot for “Wayward Sisters,” the most recent attempt to establish a spinoff of long-running Warner Bros. drama “Supernatural.”

“We were very happy with the ‘Wayward Sisters’ spinoff,” Pedowitz said. “We had only a certain number of slots [in the schedule], and it just didn’t get there.” Pedowitz repeated his longstanding assertion that “Supernatural” will continue as long as stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles want to continue. But he cast doubt on whether, after several attempts, a spinoff might ever be successfully launched. “‘Supernatural’ may be Jared and Jensen, and there may not be a franchise beyond that,” he said.

Pedowitz also addressed several questions about programming and the network’s corporate parentage:

• Speaking to reporters after his executive session, the CW president declined to address allegations against CBS CEO Leslie Moonves of sexual misconduct — noting that the CW is a joint venture of CBS and Warner Bros., and not a wholly owned division of either. “I cannot discuss CBS,” Pedowitz said. “We’re a JV — different place, different culture, different world. We’re fairly autonomous. Les is a great executive, and they [the CBS board of directors] will determine what best happens.”

• Asked how the acquisition of Warner Bros. parent Time Warner by AT&T would affect the network, Pedowitz predicted that the impact would not be great. “I know both parent companies, Warner and CBS are very happy with the CW’s business model,” he said.

• Though the character of Batwoman is set to be introduced in the shared world of the CW’s DC Comics-inspired superhero dramas, Pedowitz said that there are no plans at this time to add Batman. “There is no plan at all at this point in time to have Batman appear,” he said.

• Pedowitz said that Netflix’s “Sabrina” will not cross over in any way with the CW’s “Riverdale,” but that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, exec producer of both series, is working on a possible spinoff of the latter. “I’m waiting to hear what Roberto has in mind.”

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