After Snagging Supergirl, The CW Will Devote 40% of Its Fall Schedule to Superhero Shows

DC Comics series kick off Monday through Thursday

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If you switch on The CW this fall, there's a 40 percent chance you'll see a superhero series.

The network's fall schedule, which it announced today ahead of its upfront presentation this morning at New York City Center, features four DC Comics series—The Flash, Arrow, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and now Supergirl, which the network picked up from CBS last week—kicking off Mondays through Thursdays.

The CW will celebrate its 10th anniversary next season "from a position of strength," said The CW president Mark Pedowitz. And its slate of superhero shows has made it "one of the most balanced audiences" in broadcast, with close to a 50-50 audience split between men and women, down from 70-30 in favor of women when Pedowitz arrived at the network in 2011.

Supergirl is relocating from CBS to The CW—in a deal that came together in just a week and a half—after "our parent companies recognized that this was the right place for it," said Pedowitz, who noted that The CW is "where it should have been in the first place."

While Pedowitz expects Supergirl's ratings will be "a little less" than they were on CBS, he added, "We believe it may be one of our top three performers in terms of ratings next year." Supergirl's arrival also means the annual December crossover between Arrow and The Flash will be "the biggest one ever" this year, involving all four shows.

Supergirl will retain the same 8 p.m. Monday time slot it had at CBS, followed by another female-skewing series, Jane the Virgin. "We expect the series to turbocharge the night," said Pedowitz. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was paired with Jane last season, moves to Fridays at 9 p.m.

Tuesday will see The Flash, The CW's most-watched show, leading into new drama No Tomorrow, about a no-nonsense woman who falls for a free spirit who lives each moment to the fullest because he thinks the world is about to end. Pedowitz called it "a charming romantic comedy … which shares with The Flash a blue-sky optimism."

It took some time for the upfront audience to warm up to No Tomorrow's trailer, but they were on board by its conclusion.

Arrow remains on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., providing a lead-in for new drama Frequency, which is based on the 2000 Dennis Quaid film. In this iteration, a police detective discovers she can speak via ham radio with her estranged father, who died 20 years ago, and decisions he makes in 1996 alter present events. (It touches on two big upfront trends: shows based on movies and series involving time travel.)

The trailer seemed to be the biggest departure from standard CW fare of all its new shows this year.

The midseason hit DC's Legends of Tomorrow will keep its 8 p.m. Thursday spot, followed by Supernatural, which shifts from Wednesdays.

The Vampire Diaries will return for its final season in the same Fridays at 8 p.m. time slot it was relocated to earlier this year and paired somewhat oddly with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Pedowitz said he hasn't decided whether next season will be the last one for The Vampire Diaries. "In my dreams, it isn't," he said.

Held for midseason are iZombie, Reign and The 100, along with new drama Riverdale, a modern take on the Archie Comics characters, including Archie, Betty and Veronica. It will be The CW's fifth series from executive producer Greg Berlanti (who is also an EP on the four DC Comics series, as well as NBC's Blindspot).

Anyone expecting a faithful adaptation of Archie and his friends will be in for a rude awakening, as the trailer featured a heavy dose of sex and murder.

Streaming app and ad loads

As these shows debut this October, The CW app—which is currently available on iOS and Android devices, among others—will expand to a host of new platforms, including Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast, allowing users to stream all of the networks' shows for free, without authentication.

While other networks like TNT, truTV and National Geographic Channel have announced plans to reduce ad loads in the fall, The CW won't follow their lead yet. "We've discussed it. If the right opportunity happens, we would think about doing it," said Pedowitz, explaining that only certain shows can support reduced ad loads.

"Not every show can take a smaller commercial load. Advertisers will push back. If you have the right show to do it with, it will work. If you do not have the right show, you will pay the price for it," said Pedowitz, noting that Fox's reduced ad load experiment with Fringe lasted just one year. "It becomes a question of economics at some point" if advertisers refuse to pay a higher rate to appear in a less-cluttered environment.

The CW fall 2016-2017 schedule (new programs in bold)


8-9 p.m. — Supergirl (new network)

9-10 p.m. — Jane the Virgin


8-9 p.m. — The Flash

9-10 p.m. — No Tomorrow


8-9 p.m. — Arrow

9-10 p.m. — Frequency


8-9 p.m. — DC's Legends of Tomorrow

9-10 p.m. — Supernatural (new time)


8-9 p.m. — The Vampire Diaries

9-10 p.m. — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (new time)


iZombie, The 100, The Originals, Reign, Riverdale

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.