The CW is for sale.
The broadcast network, home to shows like Batwoman en Walker, is traded by its business owners, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia, attach multiple sources to The Hollywood Reporter.
De Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, says local TV giant Nexstar is among the potential applicants. Nexstar, which owns 199 local TV stations as well as the cable channel NewsNation and The Hill, is one of the largest owners of The CW stations. It is not immediately clear whether ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia intend to sell the entire network, or retain minority interests.
News of the possible sale comes as the network – a joint venture between CBS and WarnerMedia – has never been profitable since its inception in 2006 when the two companies merged the former UPN and The WB Network. Much of the revenue generated from the younger skewing network is generated from international and streaming sales for such script originals as The Flash en Dynasty.
The CW previously had a long-standing output deal with Netflix that helped series like Riverdale en All American reach wider audiences and, ultimately, grow on linear. That pack ended in 2019 when Warner Bros. TV and CBS Studios transferred library deals to their respective streamers, HBO Max and Paramount +. Also affecting the profit margins on originals is the fact that overseas sales are almost complete as CBS Studios and Warners try to retain those rights for their respective streamers.
The end of the Netflix export deal and loss of revenue from overseas sales created a greater concern for the studios that previously generated revenue not from linear but from Netflix and international sales.
The CW, under CEO Mark Pedowitz (which ranks as the longest-running topper), targets viewers 18-34, and offers originals available for free on its website and CW Seed.
The network was originally designed for programming provided 50-50 by Warners and CBS Studios. Thanks to the success of Greg Berlanti’s DC Comics universe of shows included The Flash, Superman & Lois, Batwoman, The Flash en Legends of Tomorrow, among others, Warners has been the primary provider of content on the network. CBS Studios provides scripted fare included Dynasty – TV’s lowest-rated original – and Charmed, while other originals that are not based on either DC or CBS IP are co-productions between both studios.
Several industry insiders have speculated in recent years that ViacomCBS could lose its stake in The CW if its output on the network declined. News that WarnerMedia, prior to its Discovery acquisition, would seek to sell its stake or become a passive partner in The CW would be a surprise, given how much of the network the studio programs led by Channing Dungey.
Reps for WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS did not immediately respond THRhis request for comment. A Nexstar spokesman declined to comment.