Mark Pedowitz is the newest addition to The CW network, and he has a new vision for the network. Pedowitz wants to bring comedy back to The CW, claiming that this will widen the viewership of the network, and bringing more success overall. But the CW’s troubled history with comedy makes this a risky plan for success.
A Spotty History with Comedy
In 2011, Mark Pedowitz succeeded the former president of The CW, Dawn Ostroff. Right off the bat, Ostroff called Pedowitz out, predicting the difficulty and failure of doing comedies on The CW. Ostroff claimed that this idea would not go far because of her past experience. When The CW originally launched its network back in 2006, shows such as Everybody Hates Chris and The Game were two comedy series that aired for three years on The CW…but these were the longest comedy series running on The CW.
In 2011, Aliens in America and 18 to Life launched with little success, with neither running more than a season or two. Thereafter, comedies took a backseat on the network, and hour-long vampire and superhero dramas took over, catering to an 18-34, young women demographic.
On the other hand, Pedowitz doesn’t seem to want to diminish supernatural dramas from the network. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pedowitz fully supports these dramas, “Not only do Arrow, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries perform well on-air, they’re also extremely successful for us both digitally and socially. I’m thrilled to have all three shows returning to our schedule in upcoming seasons.”
When it comes down to the numbers, Pedowitz should be proud. The Vampire Diaries has up to 2.5 million viewers on average per episode, not to mention that Arrow holds the record for the best premiere viewership for The CW, coming in at 4.5 million viewers. According to tv.com, The CW’s top popular shows are their fictional hour-long drama series. Supernatural is the most popular series on The CW, The Vampire Diaries snags second, and Arrow comes in at number three. These numbers speak volumes when it comes to the content and the genre that The CW viewers are demanding: they want drama. So where does that leave comedy?
New Target Demographic
The first big step that Pedowitz took to catch attention of viewers was bringing back Whose Line is it Anyways? to The CW. Whose Line premiered in Summer of 2013, and in the Fall it is drawing about 2.4 million viewers on Tuesday nights. This improv comedy series was a smart move to draw the older spectrum of the 18-34 demographic, and pull the focus to both men and women.
Also in September 2013, The CW announced it would broadcast a Canadian comedy series called Seed. Seed centers on a sperm donor who reluctantly begins a relationship with three unique and separate recipient families. According to IMBD, Seed was rated the highest original comedy series to date in Canada. This series would seem to target a different audience. I think this strategy will pull in loyal viewers of the show, while attracting interest from new viewers to see what this highly rated comedy series is about.
These latest programming decisions raise questions about the future of The CW. Do you think Mark Pedowitz is overpromising viewership, trying to please both drama and comedy viewers? Since The CW has been unsuccessful with comedy, do you think it will affect the viewership of Whose Line is it Anyways and Seed? What do you think about the decision to bring a Canadian series, such as Seed, to the U.S.? Do you think it will change the demographics of The CW?
– Bridgett Reidy