Last year, The CW, a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE:CBS), picked up five drama series and spread its premieres out over the 2013-2014 season. With three premiering in the fall and two in the spring, the move gave the network a few chances to adjust its schedule along the way. The last of those five dramas recently premiered, and based on the numbers, could affect how the network maps out its fall lineup.
The 100 was by far the rookie series with the most cross-over appeal and it eventually became an ace in the hole for The CW. The teen drama takes place in a time when the Earth has become uninhabitable and society has shifted to a less than ideal space station complex. Now after being displaced, 100 juvenile delinquents are sent home to see if the planet has become hospitable again, but they find they aren't alone.
It's a great premise and audiences were seemingly impressed as it earned the most preview viewers of any of The CW's rookie show this year. 2.7 million viewers (which is a lot by CW standards) tuned in with 900,000 coming from the key 18-49 demographic. Paired with The CW hit Arrow, the series slightly built on its lead-in and while it is still very early, has positioned itself to be one to watch.
So what does this mean for The CW? Well, it means that pending a big dip in viewers next week, three of the net's five rookies have a good chance at seeing sophomore runs. Earlier this year, the network renewed freshman hits The Originals and Reigns, but left The Tomorrow People in limbo as executives awaited returns on The 100 and fellow 2014 holdover Star-Crossed.
Comparing Star-Crossed and The 100 doesn't even look like a fair fight! The series debuted last month and didn't hit the same high notes. In fact, The 100 nearly doubled Star-Crossed in viewers (1.24 million vs. 2.6 million) and more than doubled the demo (.4 vs. .9).
A lot of that additional appeal for The 100 likely comes thanks to the similar apocalyptical world settings that are reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Audiences have really fallen for this type of genre and given that Divergent just opened in theaters, viewers were clearly primed for this style of program. This is a nice win for the network and one that will hopefully continue to hold up over time.
Impact on network
Aside from the rookies, The CW has also already renewed its stable of younger-skewing hits such as The Vampire Dairies, Arrow, and Supernatural, with the latter two spawning potential spin-offs. In fact, The Flash and Bloodlines are two of the buzziest pilots across all the broadcast networks, and stand a great chance of making the fall schedule.
Last year, The CW managed to keep the majority of its shows and still add a significant amount of freshman dramas, so it's possible it may stick to that game plan again this year. If so, a number of the network's six pilots could see air time, which will again give the network a chance to make a big impact in the fall.
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.