Nexstar Media Group, the largest local TV station owner in the United States, is acquiring a 75% stake in the CW Network.
The Irving, Texas-based media company already owns many CW affiliates, including WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles.
The CW’s current owners, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global, will each retain 12.5% of the business and continue to produce original, scripted content for the network, according to a statement Monday.
In Indianapolis, Nexstar owns Fox affiliate WXIN-TV Channel 59 and CBS affilate WTTV Channel 4. WISH-TV Channel 8 is central Indiana’s CW affilate.
Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said his company would pay no upfront consideration for the network. The three owners will share ongoing losses based on their ownership shares.
The purchase underscores Nexstar’s commitment to traditional broadcasting at a time when TV is losing viewers to online services and other entertainment options. Major media giants like Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount are both racing to build subscription-based online TV businesses. Nexstar says the deal will help diversify its programming outside of news, increasing its exposure to the national advertising market.
Management said on a conference call Monday it would shift from expensive original content to lower-cost syndicated programming more geared to the network’s audience, which averages 58-years-old, much higher than the 18-to-34-year-olds many of the shows had been targeting. Nexstar is targeting profitability by 2025.
Nexstar has 200 owned or partner stations in 116 US markets, reaching 212 million people. In addition to CW-affiliated stations, it also operates outlets aligned with NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox.
Warner Bros. Discovery has been a key feeder of shows to CW. Paramount, formerly ViacomCBS, has pushed to unload noncore assets as it works to boost its Paramount+ streaming service. It agreed last year to sell a Los Angeles studio lot for $1.85 billion to Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management.
CW was founded 16 years ago as a free, over-the-air network focused on young adults. Its hits include a number of DC Comics superhero shows and “All American,” a high school football drama.
CW chief executive Mark Pedowitz confirmed in January that Viacom and WarnerMedia were exploring strategic options for CW. “This transformative time in our industry has led to a series of business activity across media and content companies,” Pedowitz wrote in a memo to staff that month.