Eight CBS-owned stations prepare to say ‘C-ya’ to The CW

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

Eight CBS-owned CW affiliates across the country are slated to drop their affiliation with The CW and shift to independents.

The stations include WPSG in Philadelphia, WUPA in Atlanta, KBCW in San Francisco, KSTW in Seattle, WTOG in TampaSt. Petersburg, WKBD in Detroit, KMAX in Sacramento and WPCW in Pittsburgh.

CBS’s parent, Paramount Global, sold much of its stake in the network to Nexstar Media Group in 2022.

As part of that purchase agreement, Nexstar agreed to release CBS-owned stations from their affiliation agreements early at CBS’s request — and it appears the network has opted for that direction, a move that was widely expected in the industry.

It’s not immediately clear how CBS plans to program these stations, though many CW affiliates already carry a wide variety of syndicated programming that could remain on the schedule.

The CW only requires its affiliates to carry its primetime weekday lineup and does not offer morning or afternoon network programming like ABC, CBS and NBC, so these stations are accustomed to having to fill a good part of their schedule themselves.

One option, which was not mentioned in the announcement, could be expanding the “Now News” concept that CBS launched on its non-CBS owned stations in July 2022, including those affiliated with The CW and independents. These newscasts are produced by CBS stations in markets where one exists or anchored remotely by another station if the network doesn’t have a local news operation in place.

The stations could also likely double up on some syndicated programming runs or buy additional programming to fill out the schedule. Simulcasts of local news or CBS News streaming offerings are another possibility, though none were mentioned by CBS.

It’s also not immediately clear what will happen with The CW affiliation in the affected markets. In some markets, Nexstar already owns another station in the region. Some of these are affiliated with ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, while others use MyNetworkTV.

Nexstar could opt to drop the MyNetworkTV content where possible and convert these stations to CW affiliates — or wait to do that once the current deals are up. Another option would be to launch a CW affiliate on a digital subchannel. Both options, however, would potentially also require Nexstar to either purchase or launch programming to replace existing shows though, again, there’s the possibility that syndicated shows would stay put.

Having and controlling a CW affiliate in key markets could be important to Nexstar given that it likely, as majority owner of the network, will be able to pocket most of the ad time during network blocks plus potentially add value to its deal with upstart LIV Golf to bring its weekend tournaments to as many viewers as possible.

CBS and some other CW station owners had already said they would opt-out of airing LIV, as permitted by their affiliate agreement, in which case Nexstar planned to find an alternative home for the feed, typically on another station.