As The CW Buyout Gets Finalized, New Details Show Why The Arrowverse Shows Couldn’t Have
For the past decade and then some, The CW has largely been associated with genre-heavy programming aimed at younger demographics, from the long-running Supernatural (and its upcoming mythos-expanding spinoff The Winchesters) to the Vampire Diaries franchise to DC Comics’ Arrowverse heroes. But that era is coming to an end soon. While things aren’t finalized yet, The CW is in the process of being taken over by new owners Nexstar Media Group, which will have a 75% financial stake, with Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global each holding onto 12.5% of the ownership. And just from the few details that were unveiled so far, it’s clear the Arrowverse never could have survived changes coming to The CW.
Nexstar’s Goal Is To Turn A Profit With The CW By 2025
In the first place, Nexstar’s overarching plan with the last-place broadcast network is to turn it into a plan that can actually make money, as opposed to operating at a loss year in and year out. The company’s CFO Lee Ann Gliha shared this fairly shocking fact while on a conference call with analysts (via Deadline):
One rather big and obvious reason for such financial imbalances? The fact that the network was pumping so much money into shows like The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and more, without those shows’ respective viewerships necessarily justifying the financial backing. Which isn’t to say that the Arrowverse features the most expensive superhero shows on TV or anything, but they’re certainly very pricy by broadcast standards, and with seasons that extend far beyond those of comparable streaming fare.
Nexstar’s president and COO Tom Carter claimed that The CW drops “almost twice” as much money as its broadcast rivals, which is not a plan the big boss plans on adhering to. It’s unclear if that means The Flash’s upcoming swan song will be chinchy AF, or if that budget was already locked down ahead of time. Considering Grant Gustin has stated they’ll be allowed to finish on their own terms, one can only hope that means there will be some financial leeway.
Going forward into 2023, The CW’s only proper Arrowverse entry The Flash will wrap things up with a truncated final season, while fellow super-series Superman & Lois is technically still safe with its third season on the way. Currently, has confirmed The CW will still work with Paramount and WBD for original scripted content through 2022 and 2023, but that they’ll be reviewing their options once the current partnership deal expires.
The CW Will Focus On Its Actual Age Demographic Instead Of The One It’d Like To Have
For a network that has been filled with twentysomething superheroes and the high school students of All American, Riverdale and more, The CW somehow isn’t exceedingly popular with younger viewer demographics. In fact, Tom Carter revealed that according to their research, the average CW viewer is 58 years old, which is more akin to the crowd tuning in nightly to Paramount’s CBS. That, in a nutshell, is why Carter thinks The CW ranks so poorly against the Big 4.
As such, while there will no doubt be moves made to bring that average number down a bit, Nexstar execs plan on bringing in more programming that matches up with that age range. To that end, The CW will see a rise in cheaper, unscripted series, presumably on par with Whose Line Is It Anyway and Penn & Teller: Fool Us, although possibly more along the lines of talent-based shows like AGT, competitive projects like Big Brother, or even romance-related series like The Bachelor. Whatever’s cheapest, I suppose.
Beyond that, the network will also bring in more syndicated programming to fill out its schedule, which will definitely keep costs down. It’s unclear exactly what shows’ repeats will be popping up, but there are certainly plenty of options to choose from, even if Arrowverse reruns likely won’t be involved.
So while fans will no doubt continue to hope for a left-field miracle to save Legends of Tomorrow, there’s no inherently logical way for that to ever happen at The CW, and any future Arrowverse projects would almost definitely have to happen on HBO Max at this point. Or perhaps somewhere that isn’t also dealing with projects being shelved and canceled at alarming rates. I suppose the silver lining here is that we’ve had the past year and change to get used to all the cancellations, rather everything only surviving long enough to get axed in one fell swoop by Nexstar.
While waiting to hear more about The Flash and Superman & Lois’ upcoming seasons, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.