Brad Schwartz replacing longtime executive Mark Pedowitz as president of The CW could usher in some unfortunate changes to DCTV as audiences know it.
The Arrowverse showed a great deal of potential in the aftermath of its 2020 crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. All of the various series were now set on the same Earth, a Justice League-type team was formed, and it seemed a new day had dawned for the shared television universe.
Of course, with the pandemic leaving the shows unable to do their famous crossovers, hopes were dashed and the Arrowverse began its slow, painful demise.
Now, with only one Arrowverse show still standing, (The Flash, which is speeding towards its ninth and final season) The CW recently sold off to Nexstar Media Group, and the network president stepping down, it would seem there are some major changes in store for the DC programming slate.
New CW Exec Casts Uncertainty on More DC
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Brad Schwartz, the new president of The CW, offered a non-committal response on the prospect of more DC content on the network, simply saying, “I don’t know yet.”
Schwartz went on to discuss the budgets of The CW’s various series, saying they’re “going to have to be innovative about“ how much money they are willing to allocate for any given show.
“We’re going to have to be innovative about it. Those shows, even though The CW pays a certain license fee for them, CBS and Warners get to monetize those shows internationally; they monetize them by licensing them to their own streamers or licensing them to others. But you have CW shows that are some of the top shows on Netflix. Even a smaller show like In the Dark or Dynasty, those are huge on Netflix but the actual current business plan, The CW doesn’t make those revenues. That is what we need to completely rethink so that when we make content, we can make sure we monetize it profitably.”
The new network president also responded to the general belief that The CW is going to pivot towards inexpensive “reality” shows, noting that they’ll be “scrappy” in their approach to new content.
“I know a lot of people are saying it’s going to be all cheap unscripted and co-productions. We’re going to be scrappy and innovative about putting great content on the air and there’s going to be lots of different ways of doing that.“
He further expanded on this by noting that their new goal is to make the network profitable. The CW has been operating at a loss for years, and Schwartz sees turning the network around as an “exciting new challenge.”
“We need to run a profitable broadcast network and it’s going to take a bit of reinvention and rethinking to create a brand with content that brings in a lot of audience, that works for the stations and can be monetized properly,” Schwartz says. “It’s an exciting new challenge. It’s a complete rethinking. All the other broadcast networks are profitable so we have to think about how to make this one profitable.”
Finally, he remarked that he “would love nothing more” than to bring scripted comedy to The CW, which has been more drama-focused for the past several seasons.
“I would love nothing more. There’s a hole for it and a need for it. I can’t get enough of Ghosts on CBS and Reboot on Hulu. I do feel we need more comedy. In a recession and in difficult times, comedy has always won. It’s the hardest thing to do but we have to try.”
Brad Schwartz’s response on whether or not superheroes would continue to have a presence on the network doesn’t seem particularly enthusiastic, especially when compared to his predecessor’s words from earlier this year. Per former CEO Mark Pedowitz in May:
“[We’re] staying in the superhero business, we are staying working with Greg Berlanti, who has masterminded creatively The CW DC Universe. So we’re not as robust as we were in the past, but still very much there... We started with one — this was ‘Arrow’ 10 years ago — we have now moved to create a whole bunch of superheroes. And we’re proud of it and we plan to stay in that business. No matter what the outcome is, with any event of sale or no sale.”
Is the Arrowverse Beyond Saving?
Some fans may have forgotten by now, but the Arrowverse was once quite a robust slate of programming. At one point, there were six shows airing concurrently, all taking place in the same shared universe.
Of course, as mentioned above, the pandemic greatly hindered the shows’ continued success, completely hampering their ability to do crossovers. And with The Flash on its way out and no other connected series officially greenlit (The long-gestating Justice U is still in an early development phase.) it would seem as though the Arrowverse is dead in the water.
The CW is obviously undergoing a major shift and doubt has been cast by fans over the network hosting more DC content. The best that viewers can probably hope for at this point is an exciting wrap-up to The Flash. Perhaps one that pulls in some characters from shows passed. Maybe Stephen Amell could even be coaxed back for one final appearance as Arrowverse spearhead, Oliver Queen?
Season 9 of The Flash will premiere sometime in 2023.