The CW, TV’s mini-network, will match the big guys in one area:
Beginning in October, it will add Saturdays, giving it primetime shows, seven nights a week.
At two hours a night, that’s 14 primetime hours a week. Fox has 15; ABC, CBS and NBC each have 22.
That will start Oct. 2, with the first half of the “iHeartRadio Music Festival” (shown here with Justin Timberlake in a previous year), an annual event that concludes the next night. After that, nothing has been set; next week, the networks start to unveil their fall line-ups.
The CW began in 2006 as a merger of two micro-networks, WB and UPN. It had six nights a week, but in 2009 dumped Sundays and became weekdays-only. The Sunday line-up finally returned in 2018 and Saturdays will arrive three years later.
That expansion comes while the audience is shrinking. Variety, the show-business trade paper, reported on the primetime Nielsen figures for the 2020 calendar year; CW was:
– 23rd in total viewers, behind many cable networks and way behind other broadcasters. Fox and ABC had five times as many viewers, NBC had six times, CBS had almost seven.
– 22nd in viewers ages 18-49. Fox has almost six times as many.
– Sliding faster than other networks. It was down 26 percent in total viewers, 40 percent in 18-49.
Still, the network has one advantage: Its shows tend to be youthful and fantasy – “The Flash,” “Batwoman,” “Supergirl,” “Superman & Lois,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” etc. They do well in streaming and when sold to foreign markets.
The network also could have a strong springboard into fall: This year, it delayed its main line-up until January and beyond, giving it a backlog of shows. Unlike others, CW is planning a steady stream of new, scripted shows this summer.