While ABC, NBC, and CBS delivered trailers depicting heartfelt stories with executives talking brand safety online, CW instead focused their upfront presentation on the heartfelt message that has been winning viewers for years. Gina Rodriguez, who has used her star power to champion diversity, spoke to advertisers about the importance of television to unify audiences, especially in turbulent political times.
“What I find so beautiful and magical about art is its super power is to heal. It tears down misconceptions, creates pathways for empathy and opens our eyes to the beauty of our differences. Television has the power to bring someone into your living room that you may not have had the opportunity to have met in any other scenario. We can’t be everything at once – straight, gay, black, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, male, female – but we can learn about what are not through art, and that is where the healing begins.”
While CBS took hits this week for a schedule of primarily white male leads, Rodriguez pointed out that sister network CW has “five female-led shows from virgins, to crazy ex-girlfriends, to superheroes.” She added, “to all the advertisers who have supported this network’s journey to creating stories that reflect what America truly looks like – a melting pot of cultures, religions, ethnicities – thank you. And to those that have yet to join, the doors are wide open because we can’t do this alone.”
There was plenty of superhero talk at the DC-centric network as well, with President Mark Pedowitz announcing the next four-way crossover event set for November 2017, but it doesn’t look like the crossover will add a fifth show anytime soon. Pedowitz said that new addition Black Lightning will not be a part of the Arrow-verse. There was a debate when Supergirl aired on CBS if it would be a part of the Berlanti-produced universe though and they ended up joining though, so the stance on Lightning would probably change, in my opinion, if fans demanded it.
For Supernatural, the show that is seemingly never-ending, the network views it as “indestructible” and has created a series where literally anything is fair game, including an animated Scooby-Doo crossover episodes next season. The CW isn’t new to animation, having created animated series like Vixen for the online platform CW Seed, which is building its library with throwback dramas like Everwood and the original Dynasty.
The network didn’t leave out numbers talk entirely, as they showed off just how young and media-savvy their viewers are. CW’s average audience of linear viewers is 45-years-old, VOD is 36, and digital viewers average 26. The CW stuck to their brand, “Dare to Defy,” as they defied traditional upfronts with their focus on heart and diversity and their continued acknowledgment that they can’t judge their numbers the same way as other networks. While the other networks must find a way to adapt as more and more viewers “cut cords,” the CW already has a head start.