Yesterday was a big news day for the fifth place broadcast network as The CW made early renewal announcements and also set the premiere dates for their mid-season entries. The network is known for renewing its shows early in the season, but this is the earliest I recall them making announcements and this is the most shows that I remember them bringing back at once.
All of the network’s Fall entries were given the greenlight for another season which included genre entries The Flash, Arrow, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and The 100. The first four came as no surprise as they are the network’s top performing shows, though I was thinking Vampire Diaries might get announced as a final season seeing as that one’s numbers have dropped off. But there was no indication at this point that next season will be the last for Diaries (nor for long-in-the-tooth Supernatural). The renewal for The Originals was not much of a surprise either despite the fact that its numbers dropped off this year. But that show had been moved to Mondays–where The CW has struggled the last few seasons–and it is doing better there than anything else the network has aired on that night in a while. The most iffy among the genre show renewals was The 100 which has struggled in the ratings this season. I had that one as Likely to Get Cancelled earlier in the season, though I moved it to On the Bubble with the last set of Power Rankings based on its slight ratings improvements.
Basically, I believe that The CW felt strong enough about its current schedule despite a few ratings laggers that it decided to thumb its nose at the Nielsens (you gotta like that) and just issue a blanket renewal. Because even its lower rated shows (including non-genre entries Jane the Virgin and Reign) have received high marks from critics and developed strong fan bases (The 100 is a clear example of that). And The CW is built more like a cable network, so its shows can survive better with moderate to low ratings numbers. They have also essentially become the broadcast network sci fi channel (with eight genre entries this season) and deserving of the attention of sci fi / fantasy fans.
As for the network’s mid-season entries, iZombie–based on the DC comic book series–will premiere on March 17th in the plum Tuesday 9 PM EST post-The Flash hour (Supernatural will move to Wednesdays that week as The 100 will have wrapped its second season). That gives iZombie a strong lead-in as The Flash has been The CW’s best rated series in years and the freshman show’s survival prospects look good at this point. A bit more head-scratching is the scheduling of apocalyptic series The Messengers. That one will debut on April 10th in the Friday 9 PM EST timeslot. That gives it a late season start (first knock against it) and a low-viewership hour (strike two) and makes you wonder if they might not have high hopes for the show. The network seemed to do a similar move last year when they scheduled new and unproven Star-Crossed on Mondays at 8 PM EST, a consistently bad-performing hour before The Originals took up the slot. Star-Crossed premiered to poor ratings and was subsequently cancelled and it seems The Messengers could be headed down that same path. Still, after the blanket renewals the network made yesterday (and the surprising renewal of Beauty and the Beast last season), anything could happen with The CW. It seems like it might have made more sense to give The Messengers the Wednesday post-Arrow timeslot and move Supernatural to Fridays because that show’s fans will follow it to any night. But we will see how this plays out with the knowledge that low ratings do not necessarily doom a show on The CW (and yes I know that fans of Star-Crossed, The Tomorrow People, and The Secret Circle will take issue with that statement).