CW Chief Talks Streaming Marketplace, Fate of ‘All American’ and Salim Akil Allegations

Mark Pedowitz
Eric Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

Amid the expansion of the streaming TV marketplace, the question of where a network’s shows land after their first-run airing is a growing business opportunity for programmers and producers.

The CW is already the product of a blended family as a joint venture of CBS and Warner Bros. The network currently has a multiyear output deal for its shows with Netflix, licensing money that has shored up the CW’s financial foundation.

But Warner Bros. parent WarnerMedia has several streaming services in the works, and CBS is also investing big in OTT. All of this activity raises the question of whether CW programming may one day relocate to a streaming platform owned by one of its corporate siblings.

For now, CW president Mark Pedowitz said, CW’s off-network distribution will remain status quo.

“No real discussions have occurred,” Pedowitz said Thursday during the network’s portion of the winter TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif. He added that the parent companies will “sort it out amongst themselves.”

“But the one thing we do know is that the CW projects and product are well sought out,” he said, remarking that the network’s shows perform “extraordinarily well” both out of season on Netflix as well as for the CW in season.

A show’s performance online can also be a vital source of data.

Freshman drama “All American” is CW show whose next-season fate may depend on what happens in the episodic afterlife. Ten CW series were given early renewals Thursday, but “All American” was not one of them.

Pedowitz is “curious to see how it does with out-of-season streaming” once the show hits Netflix in late March. He indicated that the show’s performance on Netflix and CW’s streaming platforms would help the network assess whether the show will return for a second season.

Pedowitz said he is attuned in to what viewers are saying about the network’s shows on social media, particularly the 12- to 17-year-olds who can be very vocal about their preferences.

“We’ve had great luck in that bingeing thing,” he said, noting the popularity of “Jane the Virgin” and other CW shows on Netflix. “It doesn’t happen with every show. We’re hopeful it happens here.”

Separately, when asked to comment on the domestic violence and other allegations of misdeeds against “Black Lightning” executive producer Salim Akil, Pedowitz tersely framed the situation as Akil dealing with a “personal issue” and legal problem that “has nothing to do with the show.”

Akil and the other producers, as well as the cast and crew, “deserve to work,” Pedowitz said, pointing to the lack of complaints so far about behavior on the set.