Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. and Paramount Global, co-owners of The CW, are getting closer to agreeing on a deal to sell the controlling stake of the broadcast network to Nexstar Media Group. Should the deal go through, it would see the controlling stake of The CW change for the first time in fifteen years, since the network’s launch.
According to the Wall Street Journal, should the deal move to completion, Nexstar will have 75% control of The CW, with the remaining 25% stake of the network split evenly between Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery at 12.5% each. Nexstar is the biggest owner of local television stations in the US, and the deal for The CW stake will not be one where cash changes hands in the normal sense. This deal will see Nexstar cover the network’s debts, which have risen to $100 million.
Conversations around the sale of the network began to surface earlier in the year as WarnerMedia was involved in a change in ownership, with Discovery set to acquire the company. At the time, it was reported that multiple bids were being explored and nothing was yet imminent. It would seem, however, that this has changed. At the time when rumors began to circulate of the potential sale, the CW chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz, released an internal memo to staff that sought to address the issue:
First, as many of you are aware, over the past year or so, this transformative time in our industry has led to a series of business activity across media and content companies. Given that environment right now, ViacomCBS and Warner Bros. are exploring strategic opportunities to optimize the value of their joint venture in The CW Network.
It’s too early to speculate what might happen, but we promise to keep you updated as we learn more.
Upon closure of the deal, Paramount and Warner Bros. will continue to produce content for The CW and Nexstar would also look to other studios in hopes of purchasing other content. When Pedowitz took over the reins at the broadcast network, he looked to broaden its appeal and audience. According to this new report, Nexstar has plans of their own to equally broaden that scope to cover older audiences, as The CW currently focuses on young adults. Nexstar will look to put out programming that would match the demographics of its affiliates.
Present owners, Paramount and Warner Bros. will retain their licensing rights to the likes of Netflix, and given that the schedule for the fall has already been announced by The CW, major changes are not expected.