Upfronts 2014: CW aims to keep momentum going, grow Monday audience

Jensen Ackles as Dean, Jared Padalecki as Sam in a scene from "Supernatural," which will enter its 10th season this fall.
(Jack Rowand / The CW)

The CW, after a strong year, inched closer to playing with the big kids this season. And it wants you to know that.

Network president Mark Pedowtiz emphasized -- more than once -- that the network is a “very different CW than a few years back” while pitching its upcoming season Thursday at New York City Center. Its presentation was part of the annual upfront ritual in which broadcast networks try to woo advertisers to buy ad time.

“We were the ‘Gossip Girl’ network,” Pedowitz said, acknowledging the network’s reputation by referring to the popular teen soap that wrapped its run in 2012. “But we knew that to grow the network we needed to expand out reach to a bigger and wider audience.”

The network was able to bring in more men with the addition of its breakout superhero drama “Arrow” two seasons ago. And the network dipped its toe in the comedy space and found success with “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”


And this season was the network’s most-watched in three years. Though the young network is still modestly rated, the often-overlooked broadcast network made inroads this season, finally cracking Tuesdays with the combination of “The Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals” and nine-year veteran “Supernatural.” Earlier this week the finale of “The Originals” surpassed the finale of Fox’s “Glee” in the ratings.

“We know we will keep that momentum,” Pedowtiz said to the crowd.

The CW will enter the upcoming season, which launches in October, with three new dramas and one new comedy -- two of which will roll out in the fall, soap “Jane the Virgin” and “Arrow” spinoff “The Flash.”

And it has its eyes set on growing its audience for Mondays, which has long been one of its weakest nights. To do so, the network is moving one-half of its Tuesday stalwarts, “The Originals,” to Monday to help bolster new dramedy soap “Jane the Virgin,” about a not-yet-deflowered young woman who becomes pregnant under unusual circumstances.

Filling the void left by “The Originals” is the network’s next superhero drama “The Flash.” From the producers of “Arrow,” “The Flash” tells the origin story of speedster Barry Allen (Grant Gustin).

The CW was planning to put “The Flash” on Monday night at 8 to start the programming week on a tear, but Fox put “Gotham” in that same slot. Warner Bros. Television produces both “Flash” and “Gotham” and didn’t want the comic franchises to cannibalize each other’s audience so CW -- which announced its schedule three days after Fox -- shifted “The Flash” to Tuesday nights. Warner Bros. owns 50% of the CW network, with CBS Corp. owning the other half.

“The Flash” will instead serve as a lead-in to Tuesday veteran “Supernatural,” which enters its 10th season.

Those tweaks aside, the rest of the network’s lineup will remain the same. “Arrow” and “The 100" will hold steady on Wednesdays, while “The Vampire Diaries” and “Reign” maintain their Thursday positions. Closing out the week on Fridays are back-to-back episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anway?” and “America’s Next Top Model.”


Coming midseason are returning dramas “Hart of Dixie” and “Beauty and the Beast,” along with new dramas “The Messengers” and “iZombie,” the latter of which hails from “Veronica Mars” mastermind Rob Thomas.

Times staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.