Nexstar Media Group to Acquire The CW Network as Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global Retain Minority Stakes

Nexstar Media Group Aug. 15 announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 75% ownership interest in The CW Network from co-owners Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global, with later media giants each retaining a 12.5% minority interest. WBD and Paramount will continue to produce original, scripted content for the Network.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Nexstar, together with its partner stations, is the nation’s largest local television broadcasting company and the largest CW affiliate group with 37 CW and CW Plus affiliates, including affiliates in five of the top 10 designated market areas, accounting for 32% of the network’s national reach. The proposed transaction is expected to create value for Nexstar shareholders by solidifying the company’s revenue opportunities as the largest CW affiliate, diversifying its content outside of news, increasing its exposure to the national advertising market, establishing it as a participant in advertising video-on-demand services and improving The CW ratings, revenue, and profitability, by prioritizing programming for the Network’s broadcast audience.

Mark Pedowitz will continue to serve as The CW’s Chairman and CEO, with responsibility for day-to-day operations. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter.

CW programming includes the DC superheroes of Greg Berlanti’s “Arrowverse” series to “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural” the longest-running live-action fantasy series in U.S. TV history, and the “All American” franchise, the original “Gossip Girl,” “Kung Fu,” “Nikita,” “Riverdale” and “Smallville,” among others.

“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,” Perry Sook, Nexstar’s Chairman and CEO, said in a statement, adding that he plans to apply the same strict financial standards to operating The CW as he applies to company’s other businesses.

“The CW has delivered signature programming to its broadcast and digital audiences for 16 years,” said George Cheeks, CEO of CBS. “Together, with our partners at Warner Bros., we have created a welcome home for content that has resonated with viewers on the network and on platforms around the world.”

“We’re excited that the ‘Supernatural’ story will continue with ‘The Winchesters’ premiering this fall,” added Channing Dungey, chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group.

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Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Loeb & Loeb LLP served as legal advisors to Nexstar. Guggenheim Securities acted as financial advisor and Paul Hastings LLP served as legal advisor to Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global and The CW.

WGN America Inks First-Ever Carriage Agreement With Hulu

WGN America, the Chicago-based cable TV network owned by Nexstar Media Group, has reached its first-ever multiyear distribution agreement with Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV.

Under the deal, the network’s programming will be carried by the online platform beginning Jan. 19, 2021. The agreement also restores Nexstar’s ABC-affiliated television stations to Hulu + Live TV. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Hulu + Live TV ended its most-recent fiscal period with more than 4 million subscribers, tops among all online TV platforms, and fifth among all pay-TV networks nationwide.

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WGN America has approximately 75 million television households across the United States. WGN America is the home of “NewsNation,” the country’s only live nationwide newscast airing in prime-time nightly.

“We’re looking forward to making our entertainment content and “NewsNation” available to 4 million new subscribers throughout the country,” Sean Compton, president of the networks division of Nexstar, said in a statement.