The CW Television Network is about to have a new parent company. It was announced on Monday that Nexstar, the largest owner of local television networks in the US, will acquire a 75 percent stake in the network after six months of negotiations. The company’s current co-owners, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, will each retain a 12.5% interest in the channel, and Nexstar will continue to order original programming from both companies’ television divisions and elsewhere. Current CW CEO Mark Pedowitz will remain in this position after the transaction closes, which is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2022.
Founded in 2006, the CW took its name from the first two letters of the names of its original owners, CBS and Warner Bros. However, there have been reports that both companies in their current form have attempted to exit the network following major corporate mergers (merger CBS with Viacom to become ViacomCBS and now Paramount; Warner Bros. merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery).
Nexstar is reportedly planning to turn The CW into a network fully focused on its television broadcasting potential. Previously, The CW derived much of its revenue from lucrative streaming deals with companies like Netflix, which encouraged the companies involved to keep shows going that might not otherwise be justified in getting renewals based on ratings alone. However, with Netflix generating more original content of its own and Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery focusing on their own streaming platforms (Paramount+ and HBO Max/Discovery+, respectively), this business model makes less sense.
The CW was previously best known for being the center of DC Comics’ collaborative television multiverse that became known as the Arrowverse. The franchise included the shows Arrow, The Lightning, super girl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightningand Batwoman. With the cancellation of The CW Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman earlier this year and The Lightning With the upcoming ninth season, The Arrowverse will come to an end.
“Our acquisition of The CW is strategically and operationally compelling as it allows us to leverage our operational expertise to improve network performance through our management of this powerful national platform,” said Perry Sook, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Nextstar, in a press release. “We plan to operate The CW using the same rigorous financial standards as our other businesses.”
“The CW has delivered distinctive programming to its broadcast and digital audiences for 16 years,” said George Cheeks, CBS president and chief executive officer. “Together with our partners at Warner Bros. and The CW, we have created a welcoming home for content that has resonated with viewers across the network and platforms around the world. This new ownership structure allows us to partner with Nexstar and Warner Bros. Discovery in the next chapter of The CW as capital is reallocated to other content platforms at Paramount.”
Channing Dungey, chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group, added, “For 16 seasons, The CW has delivered some of the most groundbreaking and generational programming on television, from the legendary DC Super Heroes of Greg Berlanti’s Arrowverse series to the Vampire Diariesand everything in between, including the All Americans Franchise, the original gossip girl, kung fu, Nikita, Riverdale, Kleinville, and many many more. The network was also home to supernatural, the longest-running live-action fantasy series in US television history, for 14 of its 15 seasons. We are happy that the supernatural story continues with The Winchesters Premiering this fall. We look forward to continuing to work together on our collaborative series and future projects, which will be led by Nexstar. We are forever grateful to our partners at The CW, especially Mark Pedowitz, who has been a great friend of the studio for so many years, and myself personally. We know the network will continue to thrive under his leadership.”