Even back when The CW was going by a different name and was run by a top-hat wearing frog mascot, it has been a go-to spot for young adult television. Hosting shows like Riverdale, The Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl (Remember those scandalized reviews from parents that Gossip Girl used on their posters?), the cable network crafted its brand around giving the teens what they want. However, that era looks to be coming to an end. According to Deadline, The CW’s new owners Nexstar Media Group have plans to lower the network’s losses, while creating new content for their surprisingly older average viewer.
In a 15-minute conference call (which Deadline notes had no Q&A section), Nexstar revealed their new objectives for the network since confirming their new 75% ownership stake on Monday. Among Nexstar CEO Perry Sook confirming that the company would take on the network’s debts, the main objective in the deal is to turn The CW into more of a cash cow by 2025 than it currently stands.
“It’s no secret that The CW is not profitable,” said CFO Lee Ann Gliha in the conference call, adding, “but this is not typical for fully-distributed broadcast or cable networks. In fact, according to SNL Kagan data, no other broadcast network operates at an ongoing loss.”
While all of that may not sound very surprising for a network that keeps giving season-after-season to the insanity that is Riverdale, the real kicker is who is enjoying all this teen-marketed television. According to their stats, the average age of The CW watcher is 58 years old—very much not the teen-to-30-year-old demographic that everyone assumed that they were getting. Instead of continuing to give those older viewers content that they’re apparently already watching and enjoying, Nexstar President and COO Tom Carter says they’re “lowering unscripted costs” and adding more syndicated shows to their lineup.
While there isn’t an age limit on enjoying the epic highs and lows of high school adventures, there is a question as to whether this data is the most accurate representation of their general audience. Could these stats have been taken from only those who watch The CW on cable boxes, giving them a leaning more towards an older viewer? If so, that seems pretty risky to not take into account streaming views, which amasses a much younger audience for binge-watching and “next day” episode plays.
We’ll have to wait and see how this new programming strategy plays out in the next couple of years, but for now, we can all rest easy with the many Supernatural spin offs and that final season of The Flash to keep our parents company.