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Sports and Unscripted Take Center Stage: A Fresh Programming Approach

New Article: The CW’s Renovation and Change in <a href="" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="">Programming</a> Strategy

Key Takeaways

  • The CW is undergoing a renovation in its programming strategy, shifting towards niche sports, unscripted series, procedural dramas, and broad-skewing comedies.
  • The change comes after Nexstar Media Group acquired a majority stake in The CW, bringing new leadership and priorities.
  • The network aims to reach a larger audience while maintaining profitability.
  • The CW is focusing on both linear broadcast and on-demand streaming, appealing to its affiliate stations as well as younger viewers.
  • The network’s rebranding includes a new on-air look and an overhaul of its digital operations and app.

The CW’s Renovation and Change in Programming Strategy

The CW, known for its dramas and teen-centric soaps, has undergone a major renovation in its programming strategy during the 2022-23 television . The network has shifted its focus towards niche sports, noisy unscripted series, procedural dramas, and broad-skewing comedies. This significant change follows the majority stake acquisition of The CW by Nexstar Media Group, which brought in new leadership and priorities.

The CW’s new leadership team, president Dennis Miller and entertainment president Brad Schwartz, face a challenging season ahead. The network is likely to experience a ratings drop as it implements this radical shift in content strategy. The success of the makeover will depend on the patience and support of Nexstar, led by local TV news anchor-turned-investor Perry Sook, who has previously shown patience with the revamp of NewsNation, a cable news channel.

The CW, which was created in 2006 through the merger of The WB network and UPN, is making a hard pivot at a time when traditional ad-supported networks are struggling to maintain their audience. Schwartz emphasizes the need to reach the largest audience possible, while also securing the affection and loyalty of viewers. The network currently has more than a dozen unscripted series in production, along with scripted international and indie projects.

In recent years, The CW has been dominated by scripted series. However, the network’s new slate is focused on unscripted series, Canadian-produced dramas and comedies, as well as sports content such as LIV and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The end of popular shows like “Riverdale” and “Nancy Drew” marks a departure from the previous programming priorities set by former chief Mark Pedowitz.

The CW’s profitability was greatly influenced by licensing deals with , which ended in 2019. As industry focus shifted towards and the consolidation of resources, CBS and WarnerMedia decided to funnel original content to their own streamers, reducing their in the CW joint venture. Paramount and Warner Bros. put The CW up for sale last year, with Nexstar emerging as the most logical buyer. The acquisition is valued at around $12.5 billion.

The new ownership under Nexstar’s umbrella allows The CW to align its programming with the company’s local news fare. For years, there has been a disconnect between The CW’s content aimed at a younger audience and the needs of local TV stations carrying the programming. The network is now positioned for gains with a clear strategic focus under unified ownership. However, Schwartz faces the challenge of meeting two distinct mandates with programming – supporting The CW’s affiliate stations and appealing to a younger crowd through on-demand streaming.

The CW’s digital operations and app are also undergoing an overhaul, with the aim of invigorating its growth opportunities. The network has appointed Ashley Hovey, a veteran from Roku, as the chief digital officer to lead this endeavor. The of the CW’s app is seen as a significant growth opportunity, focusing on the 25-to-40-year-old demographic.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding the network’s rebranding and renovation, The CW remains committed to playing “smart TV.” The combination of niche sports, unscripted series, procedural dramas, broad-skewing comedies, and a renewed digital presence positions The CW for success in the evolving television landscape.

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