Friday, May 11, 2018

2018 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 2017-18 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 3). 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 Renewology was the SHOW-centric portion, drilling more into the merits of individual shows: CW Renewology

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


winterLegends of TomorrowValor0.31
springLegends of TomorrowiZombie0.32

Question: Will the superhero timeslot sharing continue?

Black Lightning was a very deserved addition into the CW's superhero mix, but it is a fifth entry in a trend that seems to be on the way down in general. The network would be wise to start devoting some good timeslots to figuring out what will succeed it. Normally I would be skeptical that all five of the superhero shows will combine to take five of the six slots on the Monday/Tuesday/Thursday fall schedule.

But this is a year of schedule expansion, so holding one could mean a lot of new series out of the gate: two on Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, another one with Riverdale on Wednesday, and another on the new Sunday night. They have so many pilots that maybe that's the plan. Or they could just let one of the things that would usually be pegged for midseason (The 100, iZombie, the 3rd CBS renewal) back in the fall. If there's a superhero timeslot share, ideally it would be the shorter-season Legends of Tomorrow and the weakest of the full-season veterans (which seems to be Arrow).


fallThe FlashLegends of Tomorrow0.73
winterThe FlashBlack Lightning0.71
springThe FlashBlack Lightning0.57

Question: What goes with The Flash?

The CDub has been content to just go for a reliably decent-rated option like Legends of Tomorrow or The 100 in the post-Flash slot, rather than trying to "launch" stuff every single time. Now that The Flash is fading, that may well continue, even with a return of Black Lightning. But it may still be, at least for another year, the closest thing to a launch pad that the network has.


springRiverdaleLife Sentence0.28

Question: Is Riverdale still a lead-in?

Have to give the CW some credit for showing the faith in Riverdale at last year's upfront when most thought it was a reach. And while reports of its demise later in the season have been somewhat exaggerated, it is probably true that we are past its best days. I would think the CW is gonna stick with the "something other than superheroes" plan for Wednesday, so it's just a question of whether it's better for that something to self-start at 8/7c or lead out of Riverdale. There are lots of spin-offs and reboots floating around in CW development that the net may see as capable of self-starting.



Question: Will the Thursday veterans stay put?

Many have identified Supernatural as the ideal candidate to break ground on a new night of television, but it's worth asking what could be left behind in Supernatural's wake on Thursday. The struggling Arrow plus a newbie has the potential for disaster. So I could see Arrow being paired up with a returnee (Supergirl or Black Lightning) while the other one of those two is joined with a new series or maybe Legends of Tomorrow.


fallCrazy Ex-GirlfriendJane the Virgin0.23
winterCrazy Ex-GirlfriendJane the Virgin0.23
springDynastyJane the Virgin0.19

Question: Which of the Surrender Friday candidates start off in the fall?

Unless they bury them on Sunday (and it would be weird to open up a new night just to do that), this night will almost assuredly house some combination of CBS Studios quota renewals Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and Dynasty. It's just a question of which two start off in the fall. My only take is that Dynasty likely gets one of the spots, since CEG and Jane will probably have shorter seasons.


How does the CW take up shop on a whole new night?

The idea of a network expanding its real estate in a world full of "broadcast TV is dying" narrative is exciting, but what the CW does here seems so obvious that it drains some of the excitement: just let Supernatural handle it! At this point, I'm almost hoping it is too obvious and the network does something crazy. But Supernatural was constantly on the move as the CDub was on the comeback path from its Dawn Ostroff days, helping the network return to respectability at each stop along the way. So why not ask it to pull off one more rebuilding project? As for what goes with it, I can't help but have a soft spot for letting Charmed come back to the night where it did strong business for most of its WB run. But there's also a Supernatural spin-off out there...

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