The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Nexstar to acquire majority control of CW Network

(Image: AT&T WarnerMedia / ViacomCBS, Graphic: The Desk)

Nexstar Media Group says it will acquire a 75 percent control in the CW Network, effectively ending a joint partnership that married what was once the fifth- and sixth-largest broadcast networks in the United States.

On Monday, Nexstar executives said the acquisition was “strategically and operationally compelling,” adding that the network’s lineup would be shifted dramatically to appeal to older viewers — a stark departure from the youth and young adult programming that has graced the service since it started in 2006.

“The CW is currently the lowest-rated broadcast network, which we believe largely reflects the fact that its programming is targeted for an 18-to-34 audience demographic, while the average age of the CW broadcast viewer is 58 years,” Thomas Carter, Nexstar’s chief operating officer, said on a conference call. “Over time, we’ll be taking a different approach to our CW programming strategy.”

Nexstar will assume control of the network immediately, according to reports. The financial aspect of the deal is expected to close within the next few months.

The CW was born of necessity after Warner Bros and Paramount agreed to abandon their own broadcast networks (the WB and UPN, respectively) and join forces on a single broadcast endeavor. Each company held an equal share of the CW and contributed programming to the network.

Over the last few years, Warner Bros’ and Paramount’s programming strategies have shifted toward their own direct-to-consumer streaming products, with Warner Bros launching HBO Max two years ago and Paramount following in toe with Paramount Plus, a relaunched version of CBS All Access.

The shift in direct-to-consumer streaming left the future of the CW Network in doubt. On Monday, Nexstar executives laid to rest any questions about where things would be going in the near future: The CW will offer syndicated and unscripted, reality-based programming.

As part of the deal, Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global will each retain a 12.5 percent share in the company and contribute some programming to the service.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).