The CW As We Know It Is About To Change Forever – Here's What You Need To Know

It is the end of an era and the dawn of a new day for The CW. There has been much speculation this year that the network was going to be sold by Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS) and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the media conglomerate that resulted from the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery earlier this year. Well, that has finally come to fruition as Nexstar Media Group has confirmed they will be acquiring a majority stake in the network.

In a press release, Nexstar revealed that it has entered into an agreement to take over 75% of the network. Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery each would retain 12.5% ownership once the deal closes, which is expected to happen in the third quarter of this current fiscal year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed at the time of this writing. 

On an important note, the company confirmed that Mark Pedowitz will continue to serve as The CW's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, overseeing the day-to-day operations. For how long? It's unclear, but that will provide at least some stability during the transition. Nexstar, in its press release, also explained its reasoning for the purchase:

"The proposed transaction is expected to create value for Nexstar shareholders by solidifying the Company's revenue opportunities as the largest CW affiliate, diversifying its content outside of news, increasing its exposure to the national advertising market, establishing it as a participant in advertising video-on-demand services and improving The CW ratings, revenue, and profitability, by prioritizing programing for the Network's broadcast audience."

The end of an era

So what is Nexstar, exactly? The company is the largest owner of TV stations in the country. They are already a major affiliate for The CW, but this will give them a much larger hand in the actual content game. The big question is what that will look like once the deal closes. One has to imagine the shape of things will change once the new bosses take over. For now, it is expected that both Paramount and WBD will continue to produce shows for the network. George Cheeks, President & Chief Executive Officer of CBS, had this to say:

"The CW has delivered signature programming to its broadcast and digital audiences for 16 years. Together, with our partners at Warner Bros. and The CW, we have created a welcome home for content that has resonated with viewers on the network and on platforms around the world. This new ownership structure enables us to partner with Nexstar and Warner Bros. Discovery on the next chapter of The CW while re-deploying capital to other content platforms at Paramount."

It should be noted that The CW, ever since its inception, has never been profitable. So, on the one hand, as both Paramount and WBD shift focus to streaming with Paramount+ and HBO Max (not to mention the latter merging with Discovery+ for a new streaming service coming next year), this takes a big chunk of traditional media responsibility out of their portfolio while still allowing them to keep a two dipped in that pool. But that also means Nexstar will look to probably make a shift to broader, cheaper programming that might have a better chance at turning a profit for the network.

What will the new CW look like?

Sadly, this likely means we can say goodbye to the Arrowverse. As I speculated recently, with "The Flash" season 9 bringing that show to a close, it's all but over for the small screen DC Comics universe. The closing of this deal seals it. WBD will want to keep DC programming on HBO Max, so they have far less motivation to bring new shows in that universe to The CW. Channing Dungey, Chairman, Warner Bros. Television Group, had this to add:

"For 16 seasons, The CW has been home to some of the most groundbreaking and generation-defining programming in television, from the iconic DC Super Heroes of Greg Berlanti's Arrowverse series to The Vampire Diaries, and everything in between, including the All American franchise, the original Gossip Girl, Kung Fu, Nikita, Riverdale, Smallville, and many, many more. The network was also the home of Supernatural, the longest-running live-action fantasy series in U.S. TV history, for 14 of its 15 seasons. We're excited that the Supernatural story will continue with The Winchesters premiering this fall. We look forward to continuing to collaborate on our shared series and future projects to come under Nexstar's leadership."

Beyond the Arrowverse, both major media companies have less motivation to provide A-tier shows to The CW when they are focused on streaming. That's not to say some of their future scripted output won't make sense on a traditional network, but that's not where their focus lies. The fact that they sold most of the network speaks to that. What will the new CW look like? It's a little hard to say just yet but it feels very safe to assume the network we all knew is about to be a thing of the past.