The CW Doubles Down on Comic Book Series With ‘The Flash’ and ‘iZombie;’ ‘Supernatural’ Spinoff Staked

The CW has always had a footprint in the comic realm and this year will be no different. This week the network gave greenlights to four new series including 'The Flash' and 'iZombie," both from DC Comics. Together with 'Arrow,' the trio means big business for the network especially when paired with its popular teen fare.

May 14, 2014 at 7:57AM

The CW (a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE:CBS))  is staying in the comic book business.

After seeing massive success playing in Superman's universe with Smallville and repeating that success with Arrow, the network is doubling down with two new comic-themed projects this fall. Also on the slate is an American adaptation of a Venezuelan soap and a new sci-fi series aimed at teens. As The CW prepares to reveal its new schedule next week, here's how its latest moves have positioned it with advertisers and investors ahead of the upfronts.

Flash

Credit: The CW

Comics rule

Across the five big broadcasters The Flash was the one pilot all critics and analysts had penciled in as a guarantee. Arrow is one of the network's buzziest series, so a spin-off was always expected. Like Green Arrow, The Flash is a known superhero in the DC Universe, but certainly not among the big thee (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman). That will work in the network's favor. Audiences are familiar with the Scarlet Speedster, but not so much that producers must meet a certain set of audience expectations.

Still, Flash will need to pay tribute to its comic canon to appease fans of the comic book. It will be a fine line but the Arrow producers, who will oversee Flash, have proven to be up to the task, which has both sides excited.

Flash isn't the only comic project on the network's rookie slate this year. The CW also picked up iZombie. Similarly based on a DC Comic, the show centers on a med student turned zombie who joins the coroner's office to help feed her cravings for human brains ... stay with me, it gets more interesting. The hook is that in addition to keeping her humanity in check, her habit leads to her inheriting the memories of the corpse, which she in turns uses to help solve crimes in the city.

You can see why this one's not as much of a sure thing as Flash, but it's reportedly been just as well received by those who have seen it. A large part of this series' success will be reliant on where the network slots it (which we'll know on Thursday). But Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is shepherding the series, and CW fans always welcome him with open arms.

Teen dramas

Messengers

Credit: CW

The network's other two pickups were made to balance out the influx of comic blood. Jane the Virgin and The Messengers play more into The CW's usual younger demographics and will be more familiar to viewers. Virgin follows as young Latina woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated, and Messengers is a sci-fi series about a seemingly unconnected group of strangers who find they might be the key to holding off the upcoming apocalypse. 

Virgin has already seen success internationally and Messengers could fit right into the same demographic that has latched onto (now) network sibling The 100. Again scheduling is going to be key as the network only airs two shows a night and chemistry is vital to their success.

The CW's core business has always been teen dramas. The network made its mark with series like Gossip Girl, 90210, and Everwood, but as the business of entertainment has changed so too have the projects ordered. Almost the entire slate of new shows incorporates some sort of mystical twist.

The bubble

The

Credit: The CW

Last year the network picked up five shows and split them over the broadcast year -- three launched in the fall, two in the spring. This year executives ordered only six pilots, passing on two. The task now becomes mixing and matching the four newbies with the network's eight returning dramas.

This year will be the end of the road for The Tomorrow PeopleStar-Crossed, and The Carrie Diaries. In addition the network gave the greenlight to its final remaining bubble series, including The 100Hart of Dixie, and for reasons I still don't understand, Beauty and the Beast (but I'm not in the network's core demo).

Beast aside, 100 and Dixie both made sense. 100 started off strong and then faded, but lately has seen a ratings resurgence, and Dixie is a mainstay with a bankable lead in Rachel Bilson and just one season away from syndication, a financial boon that was too hard to pass up.

The trio joins Arrow, Reign, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals, as the network's choices to support its rookie offerings.

Network analysis

Cw

We'll learn more about the network's business strategy on Thursday at the same time executives unveil its new fall schedule to advertisers, but from its moves this week a few things are clear. Comic books are still big business and the network knows it has to rely on the genre to maintain its buzz.

But executives also learned that just because a show is a hit doesn't mean it will spawn one. The decision to pass on Supernatural spin-off Bloodlines wasn't hard given the fan reaction to the back-door pilot, but when the potential project was announced it was considered a lock. Funny how things change in Hollywood.

Yet, Supernatural is now the network's longest-running show and the drama keeps finding a way to deliver. You'd think producers would have been able work some magic with a companion show.

Overall the CW's message has changed a little over the years with marketing slogans ranging from "TV To Talk/Text/Tweet About" to the current "TV Now," which may or may not change this year. Regardless it's still seen as a younger-person network. And this year, it boasted episodes that topped programs on rival network Fox, which shows the channel is making strides. The CW has become the little network that could and with this crop of shows its taking steps to expand that perception to advertisers and the media.

You can profit as well

The TV industry is a massive business, but advertisers and executives don't have to be the only ones to profit ... you can also. There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had and currently cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't always be the case. And when cable falters, will you know which companies are poised to benefit. Click here to learn more.

 

Brett Gold owns shares of CBS. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers