The "New" CW Meets the Press to Reveal Its 2023-24 Season Agenda

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Cover image for  article: The "New" CW Meets the Press to Reveal Its 2023-24 Season Agenda

Remember the days when The CW, after wrapping up its splashy Upfront Week event and giving advertisers time to exit, invited the journalists in attendance to sit in the front rows of City Center for a question-and-answer debrief with its top brass? That era came back to life in expanded fashion May 18 when The CW, now majority owned by top station owner Nexstar, held a combo press breakfast and news conference to detail its programming strategy for the 2023-24 season and beyond. The gathering spot: The Park Room at the Park Lane Hotel, home to all those all-day cable finance and programming seminars overseen by legendary cable analyst Paul Kagan in the 1980s and 1990s. Journalists outside New York City were able to participate through a livestream hookup.

The Big Message: From now on, The CW's primetime content goes broad, moving from an 18-34 crowd to an 18-49 audience, mixing scripted series with unscripted series and specials. Primetime, at least this fall, will be arranged by theme nights, the better to attract both viewers and advertisers. By acquiring new scripted series from other sources (largely Canada), the network will not be hindered by the ongoing writers' strike. As for expansion in other dayparts, Saturday and Sunday afternoons will be the next territory to grow, led by the LIV Golf Tour. "The goal: figure out the best way to cultivate the largest audience," noted The CW President Dennis Miller (pictured at top, left).

Hosts: Miller and Brad Schwartz (top right), The CW's Entertainment President, with both men outlining the season ahead, then taking questions for about 30 minutes.

What Worked: Going over the schedule night-by-night, with every new program getting sizzle reel time.

What Also Worked: The layout of the Park Room, with the entire breakfast menu available in the back of the room, and long tables in the front of the room to sit down and eat, then take notes. Thumbs up to the Park Lane staff for having Nutella as a spread for the bagels, and maple syrup in small jars for the waffles.

What Didn't Work: Lack of information on how Nexstar will operate The CW's primary smart TV-distributed application and CW Seed, the supplementary smart TV-carried venture that served as a tryout space for prospective series on The CW.

Bonus Points: Miller and Schwartz advocating The CW's intent to remain a broadcast station-distributed venture and a scripted TV player. On the latter point, Schwartz announced that 12 scripted series are in active development or close to making the schedule next year, with another 30-plus in early development.

Data Points: Coverage of LIV Golf Tour stops so far has increased The CW's Saturday and Sunday viewership by 20 percent.

News: Monday nights will be devoted to drama hours, with All American returning at 8 p.m., followed at 9 p.m. by 61st Street (the former AMC Chicago-set saga with Courtney B. Vance). A quartet of half-hour comedies will play Tuesdays -- Son of a Critch, Run the Burbs, Children Ruin Everything and Everyone Else Burns.Female-focused drama hours Sullivan's Crossing and The Spencer Sisters highlight Wednesdays. Two episodes of former HBO Max exotic dating series FBoy Island run back-to-back Thursday nights (with spinoff FGirl Island coming next year). Returning unscripted series from Masters of Illusion to Whose Line Is It Anyway? dominate Friday and Saturday nights, and Sundays will be turned over to I Am documentary specials. For 2024, Walker will return for its fourth season, joined by newbie scripted series The Librarians: The Next Chapter, Joan and miniseries The Swarm.Unscripted shows starting up next year include The Great American Bakeover, The Force and Patti Stanger: Millionaire Matchmaking.

Parting Words:

"We had to comb the world for great stories. We have big scripted ambitions. The question for me is: is it good?" -- Brad Schwartz, The CW's Entertainment President

"The regional sports networks are imploding. The cable networks are pulling back on sports. We have a lot of Saturday and Sunday real estate in the afternoons. You'll see a lot more sports on the network." -- The CW President Dennis Miller

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