The CW announced Monday that it would be giving early renewals to all seven of its returning fall shows – The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Supernatural, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, and the recently acquired Supergirl Deadline reports.
This marks the second year in a row where the channel has broken tradition. In March 2016, the CW gave every single show on its slate an early renewal.
Fans are worried because some shows like Frequency, No Tomorrow, and iZombie weren’t included on the list of early renewals this year. Just how worried should you be? Keep reading to find out where the CW may stand on these issues.
Why Give These Shows Renewals?
The seven renewed shows represent a good chunk of the CW’s brand over the years, something the channel has been very particular about developing.
Because its shows can’t usually compete ratings-wise with other networks, the CW has leaned into both its demographic – teenager and young adult (18-34) – and its fandom ties. However, the channel has shown signs of breaking with both in recent years.
The superhero shows – Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl – have helped the channel skew both slightly older and more male than it did in the past. Meanwhile, shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane and Virgin, which have passionate critical support but fewer marketing/merchandising opportunities, have become the CW’s shows du jour.
The latter of these shows in particular help the CW break further onto the TV market by giving the channel award show clout. Up until Gina Rodriguez’s 2014 Golden Globe win for Jane the Virgin, the CW hadn’t even been nominated for the award. Just two TV seasons later and the channel has won two Golden Globes and been nominated for three others.
CW president Mark Pedowitz says these early renewals mean the shows’ creative teams will have more time to plan ahead and will give the shows a solid basis.
The only negative to the renewal announcements is that each show’s number of episodes hasn’t been announced, and Pedowitz has said that not all of the CW shows need the typical 22 episode-count. Though he did note that the superhero shows are all designed to go for full seasons.
What About Renewals for the Other Fall Shows?
While the seven renewals made up all the returning shows on the CW – except The Vampire Diaries, which was already scheduled to end after its current season – these shows didn’t make up the entirety of the channel’s fall slate.
The CW premiered both the dramedy No Tomorrow and the time-traveling drama Frequency this fall. Though these shows fit into the already established demos for the network – No Tomorrow following a quirky vibe à la Jane the Virgin and Frequency treading more on sci-fi/heroic territory – neither one has garnered strong ratings.
Ratings are never a death knell for a CW show – though that may be changing as the channel grows ever more competitive – and it’s worth noting Pedowitz had to defend the decision to renew Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because its ratings are so low.
However, people have been sounding alarms about Frequency and No Tomorrow since November when neither show received a back-nine count. (Often, networks will order 13 episodes for a show and then extend it to a full season once the show has proven itself.) The new fall shows were the first shows in the CW’s 11-year history not to receive more episodes.
Pedowitz cautions against panic, saying the shows were never meant to go beyond 13 episodes this season because the CW has a wide slate of fall and midseason shows, but fans have a right to be concerned. Most industry insiders are saying No Tomorrow and Frequency need to have strong Netflix ratings to stay in the game.
How About Those Midseason Renewals?
It’s a rare TV show that gets picked up or canceled before its latest season airs, so none of The CW’s midseason shows are technically at risk yet.
Among the midseason shows, we already know Reign will be ending this year, but that leaves returning shows The Originals, The 100, and iZombie unaccounted for. With a premiere schedule running from February for The 100 to April for iZombie, it’s unlikely the CW will announce any more renewals until at least May, which is when channels typically start announcing these things.
Unfortunately, because the CW is unusual in the way it chooses to renew things – i.e. renewing all its shows at once, like it did last year – it’s hard to say which way the channel will lean in terms of renewal.
This year, the CW had 15 shows in its lineup, not including summer shows. Because only seven shows have been renewed so far – and two of this year’s 15 shows are already canceled – it’s highly likely that at least one of the midseason shows will get renewed.
The Stressful Guessing Game of Renewals
As any TV fan can tell you, waiting on your favorite TV to be renewed or canceled is one of the most stressful things you can experience.
If your favorite CW show was just renewed, congratulations! If your favorite wasn’t renewed, make sure you either check it out on Netflix or tweet up a storm about it. Ratings are important, but at the end of the day, the CW may care more about a show’s demonstrated fan base.
Waiting until summer may not be ideal, but try not to stress too much yet. If the CW follows the pattern of previous years, most of its shows will be fine. But if the CW decides to color outside the lines – as it often does – well, just make sure you’re prepared for cancellation.