The CW's Potential Sale May Kill Its Original Programming

A bidding war for The CW took an unexpected turn when TV giant Nextstar placed the highest offer, which -- if successful -- could clean the network's original programming roster.

In an aggressive buying campaign for stations and channels, the Texas-based station owner now seeks to add The CW to its ever-growing television collection. It's possible that Nexstar is simply pursuing an entertainment-based broadcast network, but if its history of buying and rebranding is any indication, such as its purchased WGN America's transformation into NewsNation, The CW may undergo a content shift. As a knowledgeable industry insider explained to THR, "Nexstar won't run it [The CW] the same way."

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Because Nexstar's revenue largely rotates around pricey political advertisements, the company's commercial decisions mostly aim to create ample air time for future election years. For this reason, Nexstar's bid for a majority stake in The CW may mean additional or replacement news programming in the network's lineup. According to a source at NewsNation, the potential deal had Nexstar executives "salivating" over the prospect of news hours, political adverts and issue-ads placed on The CW's scheduling.

During a quarterly earnings call, Nexstar President and COO Tom Carter told analysts, "I think you'll see us do more content acquisitions," which suggests The CW's overall strategy could easily change under a Nexstar leadership. For example, a Nexstar-controlled CW could outsource and buy programming from other studios instead of creating original content. Furthermore, because of The CW's current financial struggles, purchasing another studio's television series would help the network operate smoothly, even at a loss. If this is indeed Nexstar's plans for The CW, the network's roster of DC series, such as the long-running hits The Flash and Riverdale, may no longer continue to air.

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The CW's questionable future, including its programming lineup and digital endeavors, may depend on whether the majority CW stakeholders and current sellers, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS, decide to accept Nexstar's bid. The two companies reportedly hope to profit from the CW deal and use the resulting cash for HBO Max and Paramount+, respectively. Multiple sources have also suggested this potential deal includes a contractual commitment for Nexstar to buy WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS programming. If true, a Nexstar sale would provide continual revenue for the network's sellers, financially placing Nexstar's bid above other competitors and furthering the possibility of a new CW programming strategy focused on politics, outsourced content and reruns.

In the scenario where Nexstar acquires The CW and decides to rebrand the entertainment network into a political channel, The CW's massive national audience could very well be deprived of their favorite CW shows.

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Source: THR

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