The CW, a pioneer in the convergence of broadcast and digital, is unifying its streaming presence with a single CW app, making it easier to find programs and giving advertisers an easier way to reach a wider youth audience.
The updated app streams the network’s original series, library series, and content from CW Seed, the digital site he created in 2013.
The app, launched earlier this year, is free to download on all major platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire, Vizio, LG Smart TV, iOS, Apple TV’s tvOS, Android TV, UWP Xbox One and Google. Play, and the content is free to stream on demand with advertising support.
“With this new CW app, we’re giving fans a destination to catch up on their favorite current CW series and at the same time experience full seasons of highly bingeable shows from the CW Seed catalog, increasing overall engagement with all of our programs and enabling the brand to live out their most authentic self,” said Rick Haskins, president, streaming and chief brand officer for The CW.
“We’re the only network that has the same name across all of our platforms, whether social, digital or network,” Haskins said. Broadcast + Cable.
“Look at NBC, to stream you have to go to Peacock. Along with ABC, it’s Hulu,” he said. “I think it gets a little confusing for the consumer and it makes it so much easier for us to score and so much easier for the consumer.”
At a time when these big media companies are spending billions on content to keep pace with the streaming wars, it’s hard to gain traction. “The way we do it gives us an edge,” Haskins said. “We know who our audience is and we focus strictly on that limited audience instead of being a big box store.”
The new app will host three types of shows.
Current primetime CW shows that premiered before 2019 have the five most recent episodes available on the CW app and the latest full seasons available on Netflix. These series include: All American, Charmed, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dynasty, The Flash, In the Dark, Legacies, Riverdale and Roswell, New Mexico.
Current primetime CW shows that premiered after 2019 have current full seasons available on the CW app before past full seasons move to HBO Max and Paramount Plus, The Parent-Owned Streaming Service. CW, Warner Media and Paramount. These series include: 4400, All American: Homecoming, Batwoman, DC’s Stargirl, Kung Fu, Nancy Drew, Naomi, Superman and Lois and Walker.
CW Seed Acquisitions and Library Content, which includes full seasons of past CW series and full seasons of acquisitions from other networks that fit the CW brand. These series include: 90210, Beauty and the Beast, Lockdown, Everybody Hates Chris, The Game, Krypton, Lost Girl, The Lying Game, The Messengers, Ringtone, The Secret Circle, Star Crossed, Suburgatory and Whiskey Cavalier.
CW originally created CW Seed because its deal with Hulu, under which Hulu aired CW shows, limited The CW’s ability to air its own shows online. When that deal ended and The CW shows moved to Netflix, Hulu faced fewer restrictions, paving the way to unify its digital footprint.
“The timing seemed right to do that instead of having two separate properties,” Haskins said. “We’re seeing great results merging the acquired CW product into the same app, instead of sending people back and forth with two apps.”
Haskins said The CW is in the process of acquiring content for its app. It aims to get shows that work with the CW brand by having a related subject or youthful attitude.
For example with Superman and Lois upcoming, The CW has acquired the rights to Kryptonwhich was originally on Syfy but firmly in the DC Universe of The CW The Network was able to move viewers from Superman and Lois broadcast on Krypton on Seed. “That’s one of our secrets is that we really know how to migrate viewers from one platform to another,” Haskins said.
CW also acquired 90210 for its app and Haskins said it was often one of the app’s top five shows. More recently, he added two Pretty little Liars spin off, Ravenswood and The liar game. If those shows hadn’t debuted on Disney’s Freeform, they would have been on The CW, Haskins said.
Haskins says digital distributors like Roku and Fire TV have been helpful in the transition. The CW is spending marketing dollars with them to push the app and encourage people to update their current CW or Seed apps to get the new converged version before the sunset of the old apps.
The CW has had approximately 92 million downloads with the old CW and CW Seed apps. Since the soft launch of the new app, it’s up to 100 million.
The CW will wait until after the TV season to begin promoting the app directly to consumers. “Call me crazy, but you want to make sure the app works,” Haskins said. “Also, at this time, we want to focus on our linear programming and drive viewers to The CW.”
With its combined viewership, the new CW app should be more appealing to advertisers, said Brian Doherty, senior vice president, national cross-platform sales for The CW.
“We’re building a bigger storefront with the unified app, which will allow The CW to retain viewers longer by providing more recommendations and content, allowing advertisers to expand their reach while managing the frequency of the campaign, and that’s the goal,” Doherty said.
The CW was among the first programmers to sell its linear and digital advertising inventory on a converged basis.
“Since the inception of the cross-platform selling initiative over a decade ago, where advertisers obtain both broadcast and digital inventory, we have long established ourselves as delivering on all platforms to one advertiser at a time. unique competitive price,” he said.
While The CW has a relatively young audience for a broadcast network, streaming attracts even younger viewers. The linear platform targets 25-53 year olds, while the digital target is 18-34 year olds.
“We know there’s a lot of demand to try to reach young adults in a very fragmented market, and the fact that we’re going to be marketing with one CW-branded network across all platforms is welcome,” Doherty said.
The new digital platform will also provide more insight into CW viewer behavior, and the networks will create ad experiences that match those behaviors.
“We strongly believe that the advertising experience should be different for a viewer who could catch up on the latest episode of all american compared to a viewer who binges an entire season of library content like 90210“, said Doherty. ■