The CW boss Mark Pedowitz has explained why The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV show made the move from being on the network to becoming a 20-episode, two-season series that will be made available on Netflix starting this year.
Tackling the origins and subsequent adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the yet-to-be-titled show will star Mad Men alum, Kiernan Shipka as the titular character. Much like its parent series, Riverdale, the new Sabrina TV show will be much darker than the famous Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV series that aired in the 1990s, and is said to resemble classic horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist when it comes to tone. The show picks up as its protagonist is dealing with an identity crisis, not really knowing how to come to terms with being half witch and half mortal.
Speaking with Deadline, Pedowitz addressed the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV show's move from The CW to Netflix, saying he was very much in the loop about the process:
“I was aware, I was deeply involved with (WBTV president) Peter (Roth) on the whole thing. It was a decision which I understood from a business point of view. Netflix offered them a two-year deal, we weren’t going to do that. Netflix has had great success and should get some credit for helping us get Riverdale binged, and our guys get a lot of credit from bringing the guys who binged (on Netflix) back to the network and our digital site. I wish them the best.”
It's been rumored that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was too similar to another developing witch-centric series at The CW - the Charmed reboot, from Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman - for the network's tastes and that this contributed to the show's move to Netflix. Pedowitz, however, says such claims are inaccurate:
“The real similarities between the two shows is witches. They were very different concepts in how they will be handled - one has Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s patina to it, one has Jenny Urman’s - very different storytellers, very different versions of what the show should be.”
The Netflix move is not at all a bad thing. It might actually be for the better, considering that people like binge-watching their shows these days and that Riverdale itself is presented as a Netflix original series outside of North America. Depending on how Sabrina's narrative is structured, it could actually be aided by bing-watching rather than the more traditional week-by-week TV viewing. Some TV shows are best viewed on a weekly basis (like procedurals), while others (especially serialized ones) are arguably better when viewed and taken in as a whole.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina should be relatively similar to Riverdale in tone, seeing as both were created and are run by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. As mentioned, The CW series is presented as a Netflix original in much of the world, and every episode is made available through the service the day after it airs, even in the U.S. Riverdale has been well-served by this approach in terms of viewership, so it stands to reason that Sabrina could follow suit in that respect.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV series premieres on Netflix this year.