Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Upfront Questions: The CW

Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront.

On each night, you can see the network's average 2015-16 ratings with its most frequent occupant in three different sub-sections of the year: "fall" (premiere week through December 31), "winter" (January 1 to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time) and "spring" (the start of DST through Thursday, May 5). You can also switch from the A18-49 ratings to the True ratings, which should make the comparisons across nights and across the season a bit more fair.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, drilling more into the merits of individual shows: CW Power Rankings

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


fallCrazy Ex-GirlfriendJane the Virgin0.34
winterCrazy Ex-GirlfriendJane the Virgin0.34
springCrazy Ex-GirlfriendJane the Virgin0.31

Question: How will the CW aim to improve on its weakest weeknight?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend never really tapped into the young female audience that has made Jane the Virgin a passable player, even with low raw numbers. Maybe some of that audience will come across Crazy in streaming during the off-season, but the network can't risk giving it this timeslot back and having that not happen. Both of the CDub's top pilots Riverdale and No Tomorrow seem like potential fits here, and it could always be something like iZombie as well. Or stick with Supergirl to keep that show in a consistent timeslot?!


fallThe FlashiZombie0.99
winterThe FlashiZombie0.98
springThe FlashiZombie0.86

Question: What gets the best lead-in on the network?

If The Flash can maintain its recent pace, this could be the best lead-in in the history of the CW in A18-49+. iZombie is a decent player but there is so little symbiosis with The Flash that it's absolutely gotta go.

But the problem the CW may have been wrestling with is that their rumored top two pilots (Riverdale and No Tomorrow) both seem like odd to awful fits with Flash. Perhaps therein lies the root of the CW's pursuit of Supergirl. We've already seen that show get a massive Flash-related boost, and Barry Allen had to travel across networks to pull that off! So a lead-in/lead-out relationship (and the virtually certain further crossovers) could also be fruitful.



Question: Is it time for the old mercenary Supernatural to go patch up another night?

The CW's comeback has been built on a lot of lineups that carve out a new night with a high-profile newbie (Arrow, The Originals, The Flash) at 8/7c and Supernatural at 9/8c. Might that same formula be the network's best way of getting back in the game on Monday, or Thursday if Legends is not there? It's possible. But there's also gonna be a huge lead-in available from The Flash. And moving SPN would also mean opening up the second-biggest lead-in on the network. Not sure there's really a need to break up this successful night, but it could depend largely on the below question...


fallThe Vampire DiariesThe Originals0.49
winterLegends of TomorrowThe 1000.74
springLegends of TomorrowThe 1000.53

Question: Will Legends of Tomorrow be back 1) in the fall, 2) on Thursday, and 3) for a full season?

Seems like there's always one big CW question each year, and this is it. Legends of Tomorrow hasn't been huge, but it's still clearly one of the strongest shows on the network. It's still not known whether Legends will keep being a "limited" "event" or start churning out 23 episodes a year like its superhero brethren. Even if it does make the fall, it's also possible the network could blink at the prospect of facing Thursday Night Football. (Though it is worth noting that this lineup could pretty easily avoid the vast majority of the broadcast network TNF games, since the CW usually starts late anyway. Just tack on an extra week or two and you're practically free from the CBS package. Shrug.)

This answer is important because the CW may have to start completely over on Thursday in the fall, or it may even go ultra-conservative and keep The 100 around from the jump.


fallReignAmerica's Next Top Model Fall0.30
winterThe Vampire DiariesThe Originals0.42
springThe Vampire DiariesThe Originals0.36

Question: Will the vampire empire be brought back to a weeknight?

There's one scenario where I really like this. If Legends of Tomorrow gets another 16-episode midseason order, and if the vampire shows get shortened announced final seasons, then it'd be a good way to get through Thursdays in the fall, allowing TVD to finish in its historic timeslot. But despite the CW ordering oodles of shows, I kinda doubt all those order-trimmings will come to pass. And with Top Model out of the picture, it's not that clear what the CW could do as a Friday alternative. Keeping these shows on Friday allows the network to put off the decision of downgrading something else to Friday for a little longer.

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