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CW Network delays the launch of its new TV season to January

The streaming series "Swamp Thing" will be running on U.S. TV for the first time this fall on the CW.
(Fred Norris / Warner Bros. Entertainment )

The CW is delaying the launch of its original series to January, filling its fall lineup with acquired series from foreign broadcasters and streaming services.

CW Chairman Mark Pedowitz said in a Thursday conference call that the uncertainty over when TV program production could resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic required the move, which is the first such delay announced by a broadcast network.

Pedowitz said he was hopeful production could start in September.

The network has acquired “Swamp Thing,” another DC Comics property, and “Tell Me a Story,” which have both run on streaming services and have not had exposure on U.S. broadcast or cable outlets. The series will run in the fall lineup starting in September.

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Other acquisitions include the British comedy series “Dead Pixels” and the Canadian crime drama “Coroner.”

The disruption of pilot season, which some industry vets predict may never be the same, underscores the rippling economic effects of the health crisis.

The CW also has a supply of unscripted series that will run in the fall as well, including “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” “Masters of Illusion,” “World’s Funniest Animals” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Additionally, the CW will run scripted shows already in the pipeline, including the anthology series “Two Sentence Horror Stories,” “The Outpost,” “Pandora” and seven episodes from the final season of its long-running hit “Supernatural.”

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Pedowitz said the network strategically bought series that fit the CW brand, which is dependent on genre series that appeal to the network’s audience of young adults, and would be looking for more going forward.

“There is content out there,” Pedowitz said. “It’s not infinite, but there is other content out there that we believe fits our profile, and we are in discussions.”

The network’s sales chief, Rob Tuck, said having original content would enable the network to attract advertisers in the upfront TV sales market when commitments for commercial time for the TV season were sold.

The pandemic and the uncertainty around when the economy will get going again has cast uncertainty over the market, which brings in around $20 billion for the ad-supported broadcast and cable networks. The CW accounts for around $600 million of that pie.

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Tuck believes advertisers will be willing to spend on advertising once the economy rebounds.

“People are getting ready,” Tuck said. “I think the business is starting to get back on [its] feet. As more businesses reopen, slowly but surely, the ad market will begin to move forward as well.”

CW previously announced that most of its current scripted series, including “Black Lightning,” “Batwoman,” Supergirl,” “Riverdale,” “All-American,” “Charmed,""Nancy Drew,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Dynasty, “In the Dark,” “Roswell New Mexico” and “The Flash,” are returning for new seasons. The network also picked up four new shows: DC Comics adaptation “Superman & Lois,” new drama “The Republic of Sarah,” and reboots of the action series “Walker Texas Ranger” and “Kung Fu.”

ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to unveil their rollout plans for the 2020-21 TV season. This week is typically the time of year when advertisers gather for lavish presentations with their new shows and schedules. Fox, which is more dependent on sports in prime time, revealed its lineup on Monday.


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