Nexstar Acquires Controlling Interest in CW Network

Nexstar Media Group will acquire a controlling 75% interest in the CW Network from Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery more than six months after negotiations began on the deal.

Warner Bros. Discovery (formed by WarnerMedia’s recent merger with Discovery) and Paramount (renamed from ViacomCBS earlier this year) have jointly owned the network since early 2006, when WB and UPN merged after nearly a dozen years on the air into one only company to be named after the “C” from CBS and the “W” from Warner Bros. Both Paramount and WBD will retain a minority interest in the CW.

Perry Sook, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nexstar, commented, “Our acquisition of The CW is strategically and operationally compelling as it allows us to leverage our operational expertise to drive the performance of the network through our management of this powerful national platform to enhance. We plan to operate The CW using the same rigorous financial standards as our other businesses.”

The CW was instrumental in Warner Bros.’ Efforts to bring its DC Comics characters to a new generation with a variety of superhero and fantasy content such as The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, Black Lightening, and Superman and Lois to bring to life. ”

The network, led by Chairman Mark Pedowitz, has made strides in expanding into digital content and in mastering the delicate balancing act of defining a content strategy that works for the network’s parent studio companies and subsidiary networks. But as measured by sheer viewership, the CW has never equaled viewership or achieved par with its Big Four competitors. Additionally, CW reportedly generated $366 million in revenue in 2019 and $272 million in 2020 and lost money in both years.

In May, the CW released its fall 2022 schedule ahead of its advertiser preview, a lineup that includes the Walker prequel Walker: Independence and the Supernatural prequel The Winchesters, but it’s still a little way off was from the last season, which, unlike acquired series, contained much more original programs. That announcement followed the CW canceling several of its originally scripted series going into this year’s Upfronts, including long-running shows like Legends of Tomorrow and Dynasty. The freshman DC series “Naomi” was also among the cancellations.

It remains to be seen what programming changes Nexstar will make to the CW in the coming months as the network has already pushed several shows including the seventh and final season of Riverdale, new DC show Gotham Knights and returning series The Flash”, “Nancy Drew” and “Superman & Lois” until mid-season.

Based in Irving, Texas, Nexstar is the core affiliate group for “Riverdale” and “Walker,” serving CW in key markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Washington, DC. Therefore, Nexstar’s pursuit of CW is a natural step for the company, which owns around 199 television channels.

Media analysts have been waiting for Nexstar to make some serious entertainment play after the slow start that its foundational cable channel, NewsNation (a relaunched and expanded version of WGN America), has experienced since its debut in March 2021. Nexstar surprised market watchers last August with its $130 million purchase of Washington, DC-based news agency The Hill.

“Control of the network may, over time, allow the company to use its CW stations and potentially other CW affiliates to expand its News Nation network,” Loop Capital’s Alan Gould wrote in a May report .

While the acquisition of Nexstar marks a big change for the relatively young The CW Network, the station has roots in the TV network’s parents: Tribune, now owned by Nexstar, held a 20% stake in what is now for most of the time defunct The WB While UPN originally belonged to the broadcasting group Chris-Craft, Paramount took over 50% and eventually all of UPN.

There’s more to come… Nexstar Acquires Controlling Interest in CW Network

Charles Jones

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