Photo: The CW Network
With reports that The CW Network is being placed up for sale after fifteen years, one can wonder how a network of the likes and magnitude of The CW, whose parent companies are WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS, could reach a point where it would be more profitable to sell the network than to retain it. The CW Network’s billion-dollar exclusive streaming rights deal with Netflix is coming to an end. This deal allowed Netflix sole streaming rights to The CW’s hit shows, two weeks after the finales had aired on The CW Network.
Due to the fact that this deal with Netflix and international sales have been the only source of profit that the network has seen since it was formed in 2006, both WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS have decided that it would be more profitable to sell the network. They also plan to transfer the most successful show titles that came from The CW into their own particular streaming services, which are HBO Max and Paramount+.
The Network That Can Be Associated with The Popularization of DC Superhero TV Shows is Now Shutting Down
The CW Network, which in its initial creation was formed to target younger demographics and appeal to a more youthful audience, was partially responsible for the popularization and vast expansion of superhero television shows. With the birth of the show ‘Arrow,’ and its massive success, an entire multiverse of comic book-inspired television was spun off and is now largely referred to as the “Arrowverse.” This popularization seemingly carried a snowball effect and led to the mass development of multiple shows such as ‘The Flash,’ ‘Supergirl,’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow,’ which all exist in the same DC universe as ‘Arrow.’ Though this snowballing effect has not lasted forever. The CW Network is being sold and the fate of these DC universe shows is up in limbo, awaiting the decision of the parent companies, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS.
While it may seem like a bleak outlook for the future of these shows as well as a number of other hit tv shows that The CW Network has been responsible for creating such as: ‘All American,’ ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ ‘Riverdale,’ and ‘Gossip Girl’, it would appear as if the parent companies of The CW Network have other plans for the network’s most popular shows. These plans are evident in WarnerMedia’s and ViacomCBS’s recent decision to end their long-standing streaming deal with Netflix. By ending this streaming deal, The CW Network’s parent companies have all but confirmed the future for these hit television shows. The content that The CW Network offers is the most valuable asset that it holds and while it may not have been profitable besides its international distribution sales and streaming deal, the quality of its creativity and innovation ensure the lasting survival of its most important works.
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Does This Mean That There Has Been A Decline in Public Interest in Superhero Television?
While The CW has come to what could be considered the end of its life as an identifiable and household network, does this mean its investment into the world of superhero television was a mistake? Does this mean that support and public interest have shifted away from the appreciation of all shows “super?” There is no doubt that the love, appreciation, and interest in films and shows that contain a fantastical element of the impossible, i.e. superheroes, has if anything increased. While The CW Network has been no short on failures, one certainty is that most of its success rides upon the back of its investment into creating an alternate DC Universe.
Warner Bros in its recent superhero films has struggled to reach the expectation that fans have had for the DC Universe, but the DC Universe that The CW Network has had a hand in creating has thrived. The CW has made a name for itself as a “hub for superheroes,” and it is for this very reason why The CW Network has proven that there will always be a place for heroes in “capes” and “tights,” fighting crime on television. While this sadly has not ensured the survival of the very network that it is credited with the rise and popularization of a unique “Arrowverse,” its legacy will surely be long lasting as the hybridization of each of these shows has formed a unique tie between them. Due to the fact that The CW Network is being sold, there truly is no certainty in the continuation of any of their current shows.
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While their content is the main source of the network’s value to its parent companies this does not ensure that any particular show will continue or in any case be canceled. While there is word that the company Nexstar Media Group Inc. is entertaining the idea of purchasing The CW Network, the CEO of The CW, Mark Pedowitz sent out a recent memo to the company confirming that the network is up for sale, but stated that it “is too early to speculate what might happen.”
What Will Be the Fate of The Arrowverse, As Well As Other Hit CW Network Television Shows?
The fate of Arrowverse still remains to be determined, but it is undeniable that The CW in all of their missteps has proven that there is a place for a network targeting a younger audience. By transitioning its focus to appeal more to the youth, The CW was at the height of its success. Surely, there is a place for this specific genre of television programming, as one can see that the issue with The CW Network was not in their content but in their own self-limitation upon attempting to appeal to a specifically targeted audience. By continuing to pump out superhero show after superhero show seeking to recreate the success of ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash,’ The CW seemingly forgot the very reason why it appealed so diversely to the youth.
By failing to adapt to a change in what the youth wants to see, they were blinded by the popularity of superhero fandom and failed to create the next youthful hit series i.e. ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ By boxing themselves solely in the superhero lane, their focus and popularity waned and the network’s own typecast began. The issue of the network’s current sale is sadly one of their own making. Much of their success rides upon their creation of the “Arrowverse,” but it is this limitation and the creative box they trapped themselves within, which has ultimately led to the network’s demise.
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.