Nexstar Takes Over CW -- Soon You Won't Recognize It. Is That Good TV Business?

Nexstar Media Group is really trying to turn the CW into a low-rent cable TV network.

So what’s the upside? Company executives haven't given us a real clue -- especially from a brand perspective.

Here’s the plan from Tom Carter, chief operating officer of Nexstar Media Group: "So over time, we will be taking a different approach to our CW programming strategy,," he said earlier this week.

He added that the network will be “increasing the mix of lower cost unscripted shows and high-quality syndicated programming appealing to a broadcast audience, a departure from the prior predominant focus on expensive, original scripted content.”

So goodbye to "Riverdale," "All American”,"Arrow" and "Supernatural"? Hello, unscripted real cheap shows. I'm thinking "Real Housewives off The Bus" or "The Voice: Special Off-Key Edition" or "Dancing with Some Stars."



Perfect. A network that will mimic some low-rent cable TV networks. Why?

Maybe it's because The CW has been a money-losing network -- losing around $100 million a year, according to estimates.

But hey -- the network will be profitable by 2025, says Nexstar. Yeah, but what will that premium programming network look like then?

Then ask the question: Why buy a network like the CW just to do that? There must be a deeper reason -- to get leverage and name association, all to move Nexstar to the next step.

This might include using the CW in network and/or streaming package deals with NewsNation, a relatively new cable TV news network, revamped from WGN America brand, or perhaps with The Hill TV, another new Nexstar TV news channel.

Maybe Nexstar sees a way to use the CW's current broadcast partnerships -- with pay TV distributors, "channel stores" (like Roku or Amazon), and/or TV advertisers for some future new foundational TV businesses.

Carter says the network should want to appeal to a "broad" audience, which of course is what broadcasting has been traditionally about.

The CW is in the hands of a group that will target a much older crowd than what its targeted millennial, Gen Z and Gen X viewers have been for the better part of that last decade-and-a-half.

To be sure, The CW's losses were not sustainable.

And then the marketplace changed more. A rising streaming TV business had Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global thinking about stocking up their own streaming platform efforts.

So in 2019, the CW stopped selling its library product to Netflix.

The bottom line, then, is this: Nexstar is not buying a network.

It wants to buy a “broad” national TV opportunity to get to the next big thing. But what is that, really?

4 comments about "Nexstar Takes Over CW -- Soon You Won't Recognize It. Is That Good TV Business?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 17, 2022 at 10:59 a.m.

    Wayne, your second to last line tells it all, "Nexstar is not buying a network"---at least not a full fledged broadcast TV network. What it's buying is a failing national youth targeted 8-10PM syndication "network" with "affiliated" independent stations in many markets, which has lost its once fairly substantial hold on younger viewers. So naturally, when they say thay want a "broader" audience, what they mean  is an audience that resembles what the typical broadcast viewer now looks like---a mostly over 50 adult who is a pretty heavy viewer and likes news---national and local---as well as  talent contest/ reality shows, talk shows, "Judge Judy" type shows, game shows, celebrity news shows, baseball, law and order shows, old movies, documentaries, etc. etc. ---not a light viewing 18-34-year-old. In fact for every hour that attracts a 'millennial" to a broadcast  TV network you get five or more hours---hence more GRPs---generated by older audiences. So from a business standpoint, Nextstar's evaluation of what The CW will become makes sense. It also makes sense for the CW's indie stations who mostly program their late newscasts at 10PM. Now the stations will have a far more compatible lead-in of news loving older viewers to bolster their ratings instead of a shrinking, 18-49 audience ---most of whom turn to another channel the moment The CW shows conclude.

  2. Ben B from Retired replied, August 17, 2022 at 10:01 p.m.

    The CW isn't a TV service like ION or MyNet TV and isn't a youth syndication network with affiilates it's a Netlet what Fox was before it became a big 4 network. The CW was like The WB & UPN both were Netlets. The CW will never compete with CBS, ABC, Fox or NBC, even if they target the older demo which I think that demo will just think of The CW as a youth network even if they do change the name of the network in my opinion. If The CW has good show I'll watch no matter what which I think they will buy shows from overseas maybe they can get deals with outside Paramount & Warner Media with Sony on the cheap as well I'm sure Sony would want to do business with Nexstar. Along with cheap reality as well.

  3. Ben B from Retired, August 17, 2022 at 10:08 p.m.

    I wonder if The CW will be moving to WXSP as Nexstar TV station in West Michigan doesn't own The CW as Sinclair owns The CW in West Michigan on WWMT .2 CW7 that may all come down to the contract how long that is maybe they trade for The CW for Mynet TV. I think news isn't the way to go and I wonder with other TV station groups around the country would really want to promote news that isn't their own. The CW will air cheap programs from overseas along with cheap reality TV I hope that Nexstar doesn't totally get rid of the youth shows, as The CW isn't ever going to compete with CBS, ABC, Fox, or NBC going with the older demo as I said in another post. It will always be a low-rated broadcast network if it is The CW or if they rebrand it to a new name.

  4. Bill Hunsinger from YourStation, August 19, 2022 at 4:21 p.m.

    The CW has a niche with younger demos and is the only network that rides that rail. What Nexstar is proposing is to become another Ion or MyTVNetwork, filled with crappy reality shows, game shows, syndicated programming also known as shows that the networks didn't pick up because of the lousy quality.  Good luck.

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