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CW-sale-Nexstar-ViacomCBS-WarnerMedia-thefutureparty

The CW sale may spark the downfall of broadcast shows

CW-sale-Nexstar-ViacomCBS-WarnerMedia-thefutureparty
The CW // Illustration by Kate Walker

The CW sale may spark the downfall of broadcast shows

The Future. ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia’s sale of The CW to (most likely) Nexstar would (again, most likely) turn the major TV network into a shadow of its former self. While the deal will give its former owners an influx of cash to invest in streaming, the loss of The CW could be a major blow to the broadcast TV network ecosystem — leaving creators with only four buyers for content and foreshadowing further contraction in the space.

No stars at Nexstar
Traditional entertainment may no longer be the main source of programming at The CW.

  • Refresher: ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia are looking to sell The CW — one of the five major TV broadcast networks. And it looks like TV station owner Nexstar will cinch the possible $1 billion deal.
  • Reportedly, whoever acquires The CW will have to commit to purchase programming from the two studios… but there doesn’t seem to be a quota on how many pilots it needs to buy or pick up to series.
  • This means Nexstar could program the bare minimum and instead fill up time slots with reruns and news programming — both major drivers of ad revenue for the corporation.

Additionally, Nexstar could use The CW’s smaller digital services (CW Seed, the CW app, and CWTV.com) to target digital advertising, without necessarily entering the traditional streaming wars of film and TV.

Follow the stream
So, where does that leave hit CW shows like The Flash and Riverdale (or really the whole Greg Berlanti universe)? They’ll probably move to HBO Max (they’re WB shows), just as how many recent ViacomCBS shows have ditched their network beginnings (The CW, Spike, The Paramount Network) for the buzzy shores of Paramount+.

And that’s what this deal is really all about. WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are trying to A) raise money to funnel into their new services and B) move popular programming to those services to drive subscriber growth. The move makes sense when The CW has never been profitable and recently lost a $1 billion output deal with Netflix. Plus, the foreign-sale market has cratered because of rival streamers maintaining global rights on their shows.