NEW YORK — The CW is increasing its stock in fantastical television.
The network, often overlooked when measured against its larger broadcast competitors, is building on its efforts to broaden its target 18- to 34-year-old audience. It's adding five dramas to its lineup next season, four of which flit around the sci-fi/fantasy genre — a strategic change for a network whose brand seemed aligned with the glitz and glamour of shows such as "Gossip Girl" and "90210."
"You have to make noise," network President Mark Pedowitz told reporters after the CW's presentation to advertisers Thursday at New York City Center. "It's very hard to make noise these days with a smaller, softer show."
Change isn't always seamless. The CW was down 13% this season in the 18-to-49 demographic that advertisers prize and down 4% in total viewers, according to Nielsen. The network, of course, downplayed the traditional measurement figures, finding other ways to play up its performance — at one point, it touted that "The Vampire Diaries" was the No. 1 social scripted program.
Often boasting about the network's forward thinking on the digital and social media space, Pedowitz said he's open to live-streaming — on the heels of ABC and TNT/TBS announcements this week of such initiatives.
"Those discussions will occur," Pedowtiz said. "In some ways we've been ahead of the pack across the board. Glad to see the other networks have caught up."
Still encouraged by its strategy this season, much of the CW's moves for next season run parallel. To avoid getting lost in the traditional September launches, the network is delaying its series premieres until October once again.
"It works for us," Pedowitz said. "We did not really go into heavy-duty repeats until mid-March. And it allowed us to market our shows away from everybody. We found it to be quite effective."
And just as it was last season, the schedule is being overhauled. Changes will come to every slot except two: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. will retain its superhero superstar "Arrow," and Thursdays at 8 p.m. maintains its grip on "The Vampire Diaries." Both series are solid performers for the network and will serve as launchpads for incoming dramas.
Small-town medical drama will cozy up with beastly epic romance when "Hart of Dixie" is paired with "Beauty and the Beast" on Mondays.
"Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals" will try to develop its own identity separate from its Thursday night vampire drama predecessor, airing on Tuesdays ahead of the long-running "Supernatural," which saw steady growth last season. The new genre series will face off with Joss Whedon's much publicized ABC genre drama "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
"We'll see where it goes," Pedowitz said. "We're pretty confident ['The Originals'] will find its audience."
On Wednesdays, the network is keeping it all in the family. Breakout hit "Arrow," with its vigilante archer played by hunky actor Stephen Amell, will lead into a new, future-set drama, "The Tomorrow People," which features Robbie Amell, Stephen's cousin, as a young man who represents the next stage of human evolution.
Thursday remains the go-to spot for a Mystic Falls fix, with "The Vampire Diaries" serving as a springboard to romantic historical drama "Reign," starring Adelaide Kane as the young Mary, Queen of Scots.
Meanwhile, sophomore "Sex and the City" prequel "Carrie Diaries" has been relegated to the end-of-the-week programming night, with "America's Next Top Model" capping off the Friday lineup.
New sci-fi dramas "Star-Crossed," about a human girl who falls in love with an alien, and post-apocalyptic "The 100" will premiere at midseason, along with a new reality series, "Famous in 12." The second half of the season will also see "Nikita" finish out its run on the network with six episodes.
*Denotes new series
All times p.m.
8 – "Hart of Dixie"
9 – "Beauty and the Beast"
8 – "The Originals" *
9 – "Supernatural"
8 – "Arrow"
9 – "The Tomorrow People" *
8 – "The Vampire Diaries"
9 – "Reign" *
8 – "The Carrie Diaries"
9 – "America's Next Top Model"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun