Head of The CW Mark Pedowitz is acknowledging his floundering network’s current woes magnified by the mass cancellations of DC shows like Batwoman and Naomi along with other long-running programs such as the Vampire Diaries spinoff Legacies.
Calling the swift canceling of almost everything a “shock,” Pedowitz said on a conference call ahead of last Wednesday’s Warner Bros. Upfronts exhibition that The CW is in a “time of transition.”
“I realize the pattern was different from what we have done in years past so I can see why it has come as a bit of a shock to you and the fans,” he said on The CW’s Pre-Upfronts call covered by Deadline.
“None of these were easy decisions, we had long conversations with our studios and parent companies and everyone recognized this was a time of transition for The CW,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, some difficult financial and strategic decisions needed to be made at every level and despite some rumors out there, content was never a factor in deciding not to move forward with the shows,” Pedowitz assured.
He went on to explain the network didn’t know what was going to happen so they encouraged producers to tie up narrative loose ends in the varied series as if they were prepping for series, as opposed to season, finales.
“We had an idea early on, which shows could be bubble shows,” Pedowitz said. “We did not know 100% what would happen so we tried to encourage all of these producers to treat their finale as if it could be a series finale.”
He added, “We wanted to do the right thing by the series and by the fans. Ultimately, the producers are stewards of their own creative vision. Unfortunately, it’s the fans that lose out by these decisions.”
Pedowitz doesn’t note the headlong decline of CW’s ratings that were sagging consistently for the last few years across the board. Instead, his main concern was doing his “best” to let creators “finish telling their stories on their terms,” and satisfy fans “who invested all of their time.”
That fanbase the exec wished to be so considerate of dwindled down to nearly nothing, therefore causing new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to cut things left and right. As a result, Legends, Batwoman, Naomi, and most of the Arrowverse were canceled – save for The Flash and Superman & Lois.
Stargirl was spared too and will be the only content repping DC on The CW this fall. Gotham Knights, based on the unreleased game, will join the ranks in 2023 but neither show has a guarantee of lasting very long.
The CW is picking up new shows for the upcoming season including the Walker offshoot Independence and that of Supernatural, The Winchesters, as they are trying to look ahead despite the chaos of being for sale.
A reported bid was made by NexStar Broadcasting, the second-largest conglomerate in North America behind Sinclair – which they became after acquiring Tribune Entertainment.
As for why the shows might have been cut, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) claims revenue from a deal with Netflix ended in 2019 and foreign sales of the content also dried up as both Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount launched their own streaming services in HBO Max and Paramount+.
However, THR makes it a point that shows like Dynasty, which had the worst viewing numbers on linear TV, had been coasting off these revenue sources and more than likely should have been cancelled long ago.
What do you make of Pedowitz claiming that content did not factor into the cancellation of these series? Do you believe him?