CW ratings down after first full year under Nexstar

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After Nexstar Media Group took control of The CW network, it hasn’t fared well in the ratings.

Only about 453,000 people on average have been tuning in to the network during primetime, according to Nielsen data reported by The Desk.

That’s down 21% year over year and follows a series of apparent ineffective programming strategies by the new owners.

Under Nexstar, the schedule included shows such as “Son of a Critch” and “Children Ruin Everything,” which originally aired in Canada and formerly were available on streaming via The Roku Channel.

Other updates include carrying LIV Golf and Atlantic Coast Conference football games.

Nexstar acquired 75% of The CW back in August 2022, with Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery each keeping 12.5% of the network. 2023 marks the first full calendar year under the new ownership structure.

The company had long emphasized that it was looking to make the network profitable by 2025 by cutting costs. This included laying off employees and executives, but also dropping many existing programming in favor of content that was less expensive to produce or acquire. 

After the deal closed, Paramount announced it would exercise a right in the sale agreement to drop the CW affiliation from eight stations it owns. All of these stations became independents effective Sept. 1, 2023.

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In most affected markets, Nexstar ultimately moved the CW affiliation to a station it owned or controlled or signed new affiliate deals with stations owned by other media companies. 

The CW was launched in 2006 as a joint venture between CBS and Time Warner — a move that triggered a massive realignment in U.S. broadcast TV.

Its launch marked the end of UPN and The WB, two networks that had been operated by as two separate entities by the two companies. Those networks had launched in 1995 in response to the promising growth shown by the Fox television network, which became the first financially viable alternative to the “big three” U.S. networks.

The 2006 launch of The CW effectively merged much of UPN and The WB’s programming into a single network, which left many stations without an affiliation. Fox’s television station division responded by launching MyNetworkTV and a mix of stations, including both former UPN and WB stations, signed on.

After failing to deliver strong ratings, MyNetworkTV dropped its status as a network in 2009, instead focusing on being a programming service, which, in turn, relies mostly on syndicated programming bundled together for its stations.

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