‘Batwoman,’ Archie and the Jonas Brothers: 5 Things We Learned at the CW’s UpfrontVariety — Michael Schneider
The CW rounded up this year’s litany of network upfront presentations with a quick, hour-long event, touting its multi-platform strategy on both linear and digital. Here are a few takeaways from the showcase, held at New York City Center (and kicked off by a performance from the Jonas Brothers).
The CW is bullish on “Batwoman” as a new defining series for the network: The CW president Mark Pedowitz wasted no time opening the upfront with the trailer for the new groundbreaking DC series. Starring Ruby Rose as the title character, the first LGBTQ lead in the CW’s DC universe, the show is billed as “a Caped Crusader for a new generation.”
“That looked kind of cool,” said Rose, who said that was the first time she had seen the clip. “It’s a really rare opportunity to play such a fantastic character,” she added.
Added Pedowitz: “It’s the perfect character to further expand our roster of superheroes. … ‘Batwoman’ is a symbol of how The CW continues to evolve and defy convention, and push our creative boundaries. This is who we are.”
“Multi-platform” is the buzzword at the CW this year: As other networks and congloms prep their move into the streaming world, Pedowitz and company are stressing this year that they’ve balanced both worlds for over a decade. Sales boss Rob Tuck noted that the network has reached more than 60 million downloads of its app.
The CW and its CW Seed app are both free and don’t require authentication, which the network also said let it stand out in a mostly SVOD streaming universe.
“Given how we target and how we do it, this remains our advantage over everyone else,” Pedowitz said. “We are confident being free and ad-supported makes us the ideal companion to all TV viewing options.”
Earlier in the morning, on a press call, Pedowitz addressed the news that its output deal with Netflix, which has helped grow viewership on several of its shows, wouldn’t be continuing. It’s up to Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios, the two studios behind its shows, to figure out those digital plans, he noted.
Next year’s DC series crossover will be the CW’s “biggest yet”: That’s what Pedowitz is promising with “Crisis on Infinite Earth,” next year’s event. The network said the mega crossover would take place in “five hours over two quarters” — which might explain how the network will include “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” in the mix, even though it won’t air in the fall.
Taye Diggs should be the CW’s new spokesperson: The “All American” star is not only excited that his show is back for Season 2, but being on the CW is making him feel hip again. “I’ve been around for a while, been on a lot of networks, but I’ve never felt quite as cool,” said Diggs, who plays Beverly Hills High football coach Billy Baker on the show (and also hosts the summer series “Hypnotize Me”). Noting that he had just seen Jonas Brothers and “Batwoman” on stage, he added, “The CW is cool as heck!”
The real inspiration behind Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s name choice: The Internet was ablaze with jokes after it was revealed that they had named their new son “Archie.” Clearly they must be “Riverdale” fans, right? Pedowitz agrees, and shared this pic as proof:
The Jonas Brothers are everywhere: Nick, Joe and Kevin sure have been busy as of late. Promoting their new album, “Happiness Begins,” the JoBros’ latest stop was at Thursday’s CW upfront. The trio and their backup band performed their new tracks “Sucker” and “Cool.” (The CW is using “Cool” in its latest sizzle campaign.) The appearance was well-received by many of the young media buyers in the audience — if their screams, and the hundreds of cell phones recording their set is any indication.
That appearance comes as the group also performed on last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.” The Jonas Brothers are also in Billy Eichner’s latest edition of “Billy on the Street.” Additionally, Amazon premieres its Jonas Brothers documentary, titled “Chasing Happiness,” on June 4, and Nickelodeon recently announced that its “All That” revival, which premieres June 15, will feature an appearance by the brothers (who once had a show on rival Disney Channel). But on Thursday, it was their turn to rock a house of media buyers, advertisers, network execs and producers. It’s a JoBro world.