More than any other network on television, the CW has dedicated itself to building a superhero universe on the small screen, but after picking up the rights to CBS' Supergirl, the network is slowing down. CW president Mark Pedowitz said that while the network wasn't saying no to a fifth superhero show down the line, they had their hands full with the four series on their plate right now.
"There are no real discussions about any more superhero characters," Pedowitz said. "We have built a universe where we get to see all of these characters interact with each other and we're proud of that. But at this time, there aren't any discussions for adding anything else to that."
The most recent acquisition for the studio came earlier this year from parent company CBS. When CBS decided not to renew Supergirl for a second season, Pedowitz said the CW was one of the first networks to jump up and make a bid for the project. Pedowitz said that after brief, initial conversations, CBS executives asked him if he wanted to take on Supergirl and he made an offer on the spot.
"When Supergirl became available, I picked it up immediately," Pedowitz said. "It is now a part of our universe thanks to the Flash and the crossover from last season. It fits. It's now very much embedded in our DNA and we're proud of it."
"There are no real discussions about any more superhero characters"
Pedowitz has high hopes for the series that, according to CBS' standards, underperformed for most of its debut season. Despite having one of the most popular pilots on the network last fall, those ratings quickly slid and the network decided that it wanted to explore other options. That hasn't deterred Pedowitz, though, who said that even at its worst, those numbers would be great for the CW.
"It probably won't hit the numbers that it was getting on CBS," Pedowtiz said, acknowledging that the show was still pulling millions of viewers each week. "But if we get six million viewers out of it, we'll be very happy. We expect it to be one of our top shows this fall."
Pedowitz added that the network has spent years building up the universe it has now, and working with creative leaders like Greg Berlanti to ensure there's a common tone across all four programs — Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. While he ultimately credits the quality of the programming the network offers people and the dedication each showrunner has to their series, Pedowitz said there was another major player that deserved some recognition: Netflix.
Last month, the CW announced that it would be ending its current deal with Hulu that gave subscribers the ability to stream episodes of CW shows the day after they were aired and made a $1 billion deal with Netflix instead.
Pedowitz spoke at length about the relationship the CW had with Netflix and how vital it was for bringing new audiences to the network in a day and age where more people were cutting the cord.
"Because Jane the Virgin's first season was on Netflix, it became our second most watched series behind The Flash," Pedowitz said. "We believe that people who are just coming to a show are going to want to binge it and we want to give them that opportunity."
This time around, however, Netflix will have access to the latest episodes the day after they air on television. Pedowitz said they had discussions about what that meant for their own viewership and if that would be affected, but ultimately decided it was the best option they had going forward in a digital age.
"My point of view, and the point of view of the network, is that people who want to watch the show in-season and want to talk about it in-season will watch live," Pedowitz said. "We believe it won't have an effect. We hope it won't have an effect.
"We are a broadcast network and that's where our roots are, but people are going to view it the way they want. That's just how it is."
Pedowitz added that they weren't thinking about that too much right now, but were focusing their efforts of making award-winning programming — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom won a Golden Globe in January — and making their superhero universe as integrated as possible.
"If a show redefines us, like the way Jane the Virgin or The Flash did, then we are going to stand behind it and support it," Pedowitz said. "If it keeps us active and it makes sense, then we're going to keep working on these shows."