Nexstar reportedly getting closer to deal to gain control of The CW

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

Nexstar appears to be getting closer to a deal to acquire control of The CW network.

Nexstar, which is the largest owner of local TV stations in the country, already owns multiple CW-affiliated stations and is reportedly looking for a 75% stake in the network.

That would leave Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery with 12.5% each, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Right now Paramount and WBD each own 50%.

The CW has its roots in both UPN (United Paramount Network) and The WB (short for “Warner Bros.”), both of which originally debuted in 1995.

In 2006, CBS and then-Warner Bros. owner Time Warner announced they could shutter UPN and The WB in favor of combing resources on The CW, whose initials come from “CBS” and “Warner Bros.” Until that point, UPN and The WB had sustained significant losses.

This move spurred the creation of News Corp.’s MyNetworkTV network, which has since shifted strategies to being a syndication service as opposed to a full-blown network.

Much of The CW’s programming had been licensed to Netflix but that deal ended in 2019 as the companies began looking toward their own streaming futures.

The CW continues to be a money-loser, though it has had a handful of hits over the years.

Nexstar has expanded in recent years through its purchase of Tribune Broadcasting (which also gave it most of the CW affiliate it owns), which gave it control over the cable network WGN America, which has since been renamed NewsNation and seen the company enter into the national cable news arena. It also bought The Hill, a political digital news property.

Under potential Nexstar control, the network could cut costs by filling its schedule with lower-cost programming, though it remains unclear if a deal could include a requirement for Nexstar to buy programming from Paramount and WBD, which could be more expensive.

Nexstar, meanwhile, could benefit from having more control over the schedule as well as adding ad revenue from national CW programming to its pocket instead of the smaller percentage of ad time affiliates typically get during network hours.