CW is for sale by Warner Media and ViacomCBS

Riverdale

Riverdale
Photo: Kailey Schwerman / The CW

When we think of The CW these days, it’s usually in the form of capes and tights – not surprisingly, given how much of the network’s schedule is filled with the various superhero shows produced by Greg Berlanti and his wide range of collaborators and co-producers. (Also: The horny Archie show.) But now we have to start thinking about it with another description: “For sale.”

That’s right folks: For the low, low premium of probably many millions of dollars, you might get your fingers in a little-used 16-year-old TV network. THR reports today on a letter issued to CW employees by the network’s CEO Mark Pedowitz, who confirms rumors that the channel’s co-owners, ViacomCBS and Warner Media, put it up on the block.

(Some background context: CW was founded back in 2006 from the wreck of Warner’s WB and Viacom’s UPN, where the two well-run networks merged to try to fill the gaps in the heart of the United States. by Homeboys in outer space. The network is jointly owned by the two companies, each of which is supposed to provide half of its content; the arrival of Warner’s Berlanti stuff, and the fact that Viacom has mostly offered things like Dynasty and Charmet, has distorted that balance lately.)

The money logic behind the sale is quite interesting, insofar as it is another symptom of the collapse of the old symbiotic relationship between networks and streamers. As an ad-driven network, The CW has never been particularly profitable, typically lagging far behind the other four major networks in terms of ratings.. But it found a niche for itself in recent years as a content provider, licensing shows like Arrow and Lightning to Netflix in deals that both a) generated cash and b) boosted the linear ratings for the Berlantiverse broadcasts after Netflix viewing, new fans got hooked.

But the advent of Streaming Wars has taken a toll on it the whole concept. Wif HBO Max and Paramount + are always hungry for content, it makes less sense to send programs to a company like Netflix, who is less a customer these days than a direct competitor. The Netflix deal that saw Riverdale presented as much of the streamer’s adopted content ended in 2019; it took a large portion of CW’s revenue with it as it went.

Therefore: Fire sale!

Here is Pedowitz talking to his staff, who warning, serious business euphemism inbound:

First, as many of you are aware, this transformative time in our industry over the past year or so has led to a range of business activities across media and content companies. Given that environment right now, ViacomCBS and Warner Bros. are investigating. strategic opportunities to optimize the value of their joint venture in The CW Network.

The result of that is probably: CW is for sale. THR notes that local TV network owner Nexstar, which already owns a host of CW affiliates, is expected to make a strong play to try to acquire the network.

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