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YouTube TV to drop CW Network programming in some areas

A notice to customers blamed a "technical" issue, but the matter actually involves

A notice to customers blamed a "technical" issue, but the matter actually involves

Google-backed pay TV service YouTube TV says it will stop offering CW Network programming in a handful of areas Friday morning.

In a notice sent to affected customers and obtained by The Desk, officials at YouTube TV said “technical issues” would prevent YouTube TV from offering a user’s local CW Network affiliate from Friday onward.

“We’re writing to let you know that starting August 31, 2023, at 11:59 pm ET, your local CW station will temporarily be unavailable on YouTube TV due to technical issues from the CW,” the note said. “We are continuing to work with your local CW station to resume availability soon.”

Startin Friday, YouTube TV subscribers in affected areas won’t be able to access live CW Network programming as it airs on their local affiliate, nor will they be able to watch CW Network shows that are recorded in their DVRs, until the matter is resolved.

While YouTube TV is blaming technical problems, the issue is actually rooted in various affiliation changes involving current and future stations that offer CW Network programming.

Earlier this year, Paramount Global said it would drop CW Network affiliations from eight of its owned-and-operated TV stations throughout the country, including outlets in Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Sacramento and Tampa. The move was announced several months after Paramount and broadcast partner Warner Bros Discovery sold a majority stake in the CW Network to Nexstar Media Group.

Nexstar has since found new homes for its CW Network shows in nearly all the affected markets, including its own stations in San Francisco (KRON, Channel 4), Philadelphia (WPHL, Channel 17) and Tampa (WTTA, Channel 38). Those stations are carried on YouTube TV under a deal announced in March, and are not affected by the CW Network issue revealed on Thursday.

In other markets, Nexstar is moving the CW Network affiliation to stations owned by rival broadcasters, including Hearst Television, Gray Television and Sinclair Broadcast Group. Under its affiliation agreements, Nexstar allows third-party CW Network stations to negotiate carriage with streaming cable TV replacements on their own — and that’s where the issue with YouTube TV comes in.

At the moment, YouTube TV doesn’t have agreements in place to redistribute local TV stations owned by Hearst, Gray and Sinclair that will affiliate with the CW Network from Friday. That means YouTube TV subscribers in the following areas won’t have immediate access to CW Network shows once the affiliation changes take place:

  • Atlanta (WPCH, Channel 17)
  • Pittsburgh (WPNT, Channel 22)
  • Sacramento (KQCA, Channel 58)
  • Seattle (KOMO, Channel 4)

Subscribers aren’t totally out of luck, though: CW Network shows stream for free on the CW app, which is available across all major popular streaming TV platforms (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV/Google TV), as well as smartphones, tablets and on the CW Network website.

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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).