LOS ANGELES — Nexstar Media Group, the country’s largest TV station owner, has acquired a controlling stake in the CW Network from its co-owners Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery.
The Irving, Texas-based company announced the deal Monday, giving it control of a national broadcast service already carried by 37 of its stations including WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles, KDAF in Dallas and WDCW in Washington.
Nexstar is getting 75% of the CW. The network has been a 50-50 joint venture of Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery, which will each retain a 12.5% stake.
Mark Pedowitz will continue to serve as the CW’s chairman and chief executive with responsibility for day-to-day operations. The transaction is expected to close in September.
Nexstar will take on the losses of CW Network, which has not been profitable on an operational basis in recent years. The network has largely functioned as a launching pad for shows produced by the production studios owned by its parent companies. The programs generated significant income in sales to streaming services and overseas broadcasters.
Many CW shows, which drew small audiences on broadcast TV, became wildly popular on Netflix, where younger viewers were more likely to discover them.
First-run episodes of CW’s high school football soap “All-American” typically drew under 1 million viewers on the network. But episodes from previous seasons ranked among the top five most streamed programs on Netflix.
But those streaming deals ended in 2019 as the parent companies were looking to fill the pipeline of their own streaming services.
Under Nexstar, CW is likely to move toward older-skewing, broad-appeal programming that can deliver an audience that will stick around to watch the late evening newscasts on the new parent company’s stations, according to people familiar with the discussions leading up to the deal.
In a statement, Nexstar said it plans to improve “the CW ratings, revenue, and profitability, by prioritizing programming for the network’s broadcast audience.”
Viewers are not likely to see any immediate changes as the CW has a full schedule of programming sold to advertisers for the 2022-23 season.
The CW was created in 2006 out of the merger of two smaller networks — “weblets,” as they were called: UPN, which belonged to Viacom, and the WB, owned by Warner Bros. The original entities were launched in the 1990s to take advantage of government rule changes that allowed broadcast networks to own the programming they carry.
Over time, the CW evolved into a youth-oriented genre network, drawing heavily on established franchises from DC Comics, with series such as “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Smallville” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” It also adapted other youth-oriented properties such as the Nancy Drew mystery books and Archie Comics, which generated “Riverdale.”
Nexstar already has a national cable TV platform in NewsNation, launched in 2020 as a competitor to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. NewsNation currently airs 10 hours of live news programming a day and is expected to be a 24-hour service next year.