When news broke last week that the sort of Riverdale spinoff series starring Sabrina the teenage witch was going to Netflix instead of airing on The CW like Riverdale, it was news that likely left many scratching their heads. Instead of airing in the 2018/2019 season on the teen-oriented network the series, based off the current Archie series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, has already secured two ten-episode seasons on Netflix that will film back to back in 2018.
The reasons for the move have now been made clear: another witch focused series & ownership/profits.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, while the untitled Sabrina series was developed at the CW the network has their eye more on another reboot in the form of a return to the early 2000s series Charmed, from Jane the Virgin’s Jennie Snyder Urman which is currently being redeveloped by the network.
Ownership also comes into play because Charmed is 100 percent owned by CBS Studios once it moves to series, but Sabrina would have been a co-owned property between CBS and Warner Bros. if it stayed on The CW. By placing it on Netflix, Warner Bros. has a 100 percent ownership stake and gains all the profits since it’s coming from WB backed producer Greg Berlanti.
Future Riverdale spinoffs could still end up on The CW at some point, and with the wealth of concepts and Archie Comics characters to pull from it is likely that there will be more if the parent series continues its success.
That success was another reason for the move to Netflix, as the deal, The CW has with Netflix sees their shows appear on the streaming platform 8 days after the season finale. Once Riverdale appeared on the streaming service it gained enough viewers that the recent season two debut of the series on The CW saw a reported 60 percent increase in viewership.
With Warner Bros. eying the full ownership angle it does beg the question why they would not wait to put the series on their own upcoming streaming platform alongside Titans, Young Justice and the recently announced Harley Quinn animated series. A likely reason could stem from the launching of a streaming platform being a risky endeavor, and a cautious Warner Bros. not wanting to put all their eggs in one basket.
If the WB platform ends up a success there is always the possibility with them owning the Sabrina series outright they could move it over to the platform in the future, and if the platform doesn’t succeed they will still have a home for the series if it does well.