Nexstar to Acquire 75% Controlling Stake in The CW Network

Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount will retain 12.5% stakes each in the broadcaster

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Nexstar Media Group, Inc. said Monday that it will acquire 75% ownership interest of The CW from Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global. The previous co-owners, who’ve been partners on The CW since 2006, will retain 12.5% ownership each and continue producing original scripted programming for the broadcaster.

The CW’s current chairman and chief executive officer Mark Pedowitz will continue to stay in the role with responsibility for day-to-day operations. Nexstar is the largest local television and media company with 200 broadcast stations in 116 markets.

Under Chairman and CEO Perry Sook, Nextstar is expected to close the transaction in the third quarter. Currently the largest CW affiliate group and the U.S. market’s largest local television broadcasting company, Nextstar didn’t disclose the terms of the deal; the Wall Street Journal reported in June, however, that the company was not expected to pay cash but would instead assume up to $100 million of the network’s current losses. Negotiations began over six months ago.

“Our acquisition of The CW is strategically and operationally compelling, as it will enable us to leverage our operational experience to improve the network’s performance through our management of this powerful national platform,” Sook said in a statement. “We plan to apply the same strict financial standards to operating The CW as we apply to our other businesses.”

In a call on Monday morning, Nexstar President Tom Carter said the company would seek to program The CW for an older demographic more in line with its local stations, which has an average viewer age of 58. The CW has traditionally aimed its programming at teens and young adults.

During the call, Sook said Nexstar planned to improve The CW’s profitability, with CFO Lee Ann Gliha telling investors they planned to make the network profitable by 2025.

“It’s no secret that The CW is not profitable. But this is not typical for fully distributed broadcast or cable networks. In fact, according to SNL Kagan data, no other broadcast network operates at an ongoing loss,” Gliha said. “Based on our plans, we believe we can bring The CW to profitability by 2025.”

Sook later added that Nexstar’s acquisition of The CW would not impact the company’s “return of capital plans to shareholders by one iota.”

In Monday’s release, president and CEO of CBS George Cheeks highlighted The CW’s commitment to creating programming “that has resonated with viewers on the network and on platforms around the world” for the last 16 years. “This new ownership structure enables us to partner with Nexstar and Warner Bros. Discovery on the next chapter of The CW while re-deploying capital to other content platforms at Paramount.”

“The CW has been home to some of the most groundbreaking and generation-defining programming in television,” Warner Bros. Television Group chairman Channing Dungey said in a statement, noting its work with DC Comics and Greg Berlanti’s “Arrowverse,” “The Vampire Diaries,” the original “Gossip Girl,” the record-breaking run of “Supernatural” and more.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate on our shared series and future projects to come under Nexstar’s leadership,” Dungey’s statement continued. “We are forever grateful to our partners at The CW, especially Mark Pedowitz, who has been a great friend to the studio for so many years, and to me personally. We know that the network will continue to thrive under his leadership.”