For the past decade, and then several, the CW has largely been associated with genre programs aimed at a younger audience, from the long-running “Supernatural” (and its upcoming spinoff, “Winchesters,” expanding myths) to the Vampire Diaries franchise and DC comics. Heroes of the Arrow. But this era is coming to an end soon. Although still unfinished, The CW is in the process of being taken over by new owners Nexstar Media Group, which will have a 75% financial stake, while Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global will each own 12.5% ownership. And only from a few details that have been made public so far, it becomes clear that Arrowverse would never have survived the changes coming to The CW.
Nexstar’s goal is to profit from the CW by 2025
First, Nexstar’s comprehensive plan with the last-place broadcast network is to turn it into a plan that can actually make money, rather than operating at a loss from year to year. The company’s CFO, Lee Ann Gliha, shared this rather shocking fact during a conference call with analysts (via Deadline):
It’s no secret that the CW is unprofitable, but this is not typical for fully distributed broadcast or cable networks. In fact, according to SNL Kagan, no other broadcast network operates with permanent losses.
One rather big and obvious reason for such financial imbalances? The fact that the network pumped so much money into shows like “Flash”, “Legends of Tomorrow”, “Supergirl” and others, without the corresponding viewers of these shows necessarily justifying financial support. This doesn’t mean that Arrowverse shows the most expensive superhero shows on television or anything like that, but they are certainly very expensive by broadcast standards, and the seasons go far beyond comparable streaming rates.
Nexstar president and chief operating officer Tom Carter said that the CW is “almost twice” spending more money than its broadcast competitors, but this is not a plan that the big boss plans to stick to. It’s unclear if this means that Flash’s upcoming swan song will be cheap AF, or if this budget has already been locked in advance. Given that Grant Gustin has stated that they will be allowed to finish on their own terms, one can only hope that this means they will have some financial leeway.
In the run-up to 2023, the CW’s only correct entry, “Arrow Universe” “The Flash,” will wrap things up with a truncated final season, while other super series “Superman and Lois” are technically still safe as their third season is on the way. The CW has now confirmed that they will continue to work with Paramount and WBD on original scripted content through 2022 and 2023, but they will consider their options after the current partnership agreement expires.
The CW will focus on the actual age, not the one you would like to have
For a network that was filled with twentysomething superheroes and high school All Americans, Riverdale and others, the CW is somehow not very popular with a younger audience. In fact, Tom Carter revealed that, according to their research, the average CW viewer is 58 years old, which is more like the crowd that watches every night on CBS Paramount. That, in short, is why Carter thinks the CW is so poorly rated compared to the Big Four.
So while steps will undoubtedly be taken to lower this average slightly, Nexstar executives plan to introduce more programs that fit this age range. To that end, the CW will see the rise of cheaper unscripted series, presumably on par with “Whose Line Is It Anyway” and “Penn and Teller: Trick Us,” though perhaps more like talent-based shows like AGT, competitive projects like “Big Brother” or even romantic series like “The Bachelor”. Which is the cheapest, I guess.
In addition, the network will also include more syndicated programs to fill its schedule, which will certainly reduce costs. It’s unclear exactly which reruns of the show will appear, but there are certainly plenty of options to choose from, even if Arrowverse reruns probably 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 logical way this could ever happen on the CW, and any future Arrowverse projects will almost certainly have to happen on HBO Max at this point. Or perhaps somewhere that also doesn’t deal with projects that are being postponed and canceled at an alarming rate. I guess the silver lining here is that we had last year and changes to get used to all the cancellations, most likely everything survived long enough for Nexstar to fire it in one fell swoop.
While you’re waiting to learn more about the upcoming seasons of “The Flash” and “Superman and Lois,” take a look at our 2022 TV premiere schedule to find out what other new and returning shows are in the pipeline.