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In a surprise revelation, The Wall Street Journal brings word that WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS Inc. are “exploring a possible sale” for their jointly owned CW Network. According to the report they’re mulling options of either “a significant stake” or full ownership to another entity, with WSJ reporting that Nexstar Media Group Inc. is “among the suitors.” Nexstar’s current portfolio is primarily local affiliate television and radio stations but they’re also partial owners of the Food Network and online outlets like Zap2it and The Hill. According to the outlet talks are “far along” but could still fall apart, noting that Nexstar taking a majority stake in the network seems to be the “most prevalent scenario.”
The Wall Street Journal does note however that “there are other interested parties” eager to take on The CW, but that talks with Nexstar appear to be the most advanced. In their previously noted scenario that seems the most likely, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia would reportedly stay on as “minority owners and receiving commitments to be the primary program suppliers for the network.” They cite “people familiar with the matter,” revealing that internally The CW isn’t a profitable singular broadcast entity, but the programming created for it is where the money is at for the two companies. Several of the shows, like Riverdale, end up on Netflix once their seasons conclude, resulting in a big paycheck, while others jump to HBO Max, bolstering the pocket books between the two.
The CW was preceded on television by two other networks, UPN and The WB, which combined to become what we now know. Hit shows from both of these networks were retained and continued to air on The CW in its early days including 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Smallville and Supernatural from The WB and America’s Next Top Model, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris, and Girlfriends from UPN, among others.
Perhaps two of the biggest boons to The CW has a television presence though were The Vampire Diaries in 2009 and then DC’s Arrow in 2012. The former of the pair was co-created by Dawson’s Creek’s Kevin Williamson (a former The WB hit) which would go on to run for eight season and over 170 episodes, plus spawn the spinoff series The Originals, which would itself develop a spinoff, Legacies. These three shows combines became huge hits for The CW with over 320 episodes altogether.
Arrow on the other hand was huge for not only The CW but the DC brand. The series would become the anchor for almost all DC Comics adaptations on television, resulting in spin-off The Flash and related shows Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Batwoman, and Superman & Lois. Collectively all of these even became known as “The Arrowverse.”
They’re also known for television programming that airs on Saturday mornings and some reality television shows.
Check back here for further updates on The CW potentially being sold as we learn about it.