A massive change. Nexstar’s acquisition of The CW was in talks for months before the decision was officially made this summer — and there has been plenty of concern about what this means for the network’s programming.
In May 2022, chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz addressed speculation that The CW, which launched in 2006 as a merger between the WB and UPN, would be sold amid major show cancelations. “Look, none of these were easy decisions. We had long conversations with our studios and parent companies, and everyone recognized that this was a time of transition for The CW,” he told reporters. “So unfortunately, some difficult financial and strategic decisions needed to be made at every level.”
At the time, shows including the 4400, Batwoman, Charmed, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dynasty, In the Dark, Legacies and more were not renewed. Pedowitz noted that they suggested executive producers wrap up their shows as if they were planning a series finale, adding, “I realize the pattern is different from what we’ve done in years past, so I can see why this came as a bit of shock to you and to the fans.”
The network head also clarified that the decision to end certain programming had nothing to do with the story lines at the center of a show. (Nearly all shows canceled included one or more main characters who identified as LGBTQIA+.)
“Content was never a factor in deciding not to move forward with a show,” he continued. “We are very proud of the stories we told, the producers and writers who created those shows, and all the talent that we’re fortunate to have had on this network. I have always been a bastion of giving a long-running series a proper ending, so our creatives can finish telling the story on their own terms, and the fans who have invested all of this time are hopefully satisfied. We also tried to do that this year.”
Pedowitz concluded: “We did not know 100 percent what was going to happen, so we encouraged all of those producers to treat their finales as if they could be series finales,” he said. “We wanted to do the right thing by the series and by the fans.”
Three months later, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook confirmed the company’s purchase of The CW. “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,” he said in a statement. “We plan to apply the same strict financial standards to operating The CW as we apply to our other businesses.”
At the time, Sook explained that Nexstar plans to appeal to an older audience compared to The CW’s previous target demographic.
“As many of you are aware, The CW is currently the lowest-rated broadcast network, which we believe largely reflects the fact that its programming is targeted for an 18-to-34 audience demographic, while the average age of the CW broadcast viewer is 58 years,” he added. “Over time, we’ll be taking a different approach to our CW programming strategy.”
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