The end of the CW and Arrowverse era

The CW has been sold to Nexstar, ending an era for the network as well as the Arrowverse. The network will be realigning for profitability and catering to its largest demographic.

After months of speculation, it was recently confirmed that The CW has been sold to Nexstar, ending an era for the network as well as the Arrowverse.

The CW has been sold to Nexstar, ending an era for the network as well as the Arrowverse. (Images: The CW)

Previously, The CW was co-owned by Warner Bros. TV and CBS Studios (under Paramount Global), with both companies holding a 50-50 split in controlling interest. The CW network had become the home for original programming that was based on DC Comics properties, beginning with Smallville which started prior to The WB and UPN merger which became The CW.

After Arrow (2012), other superhero shows later spun off that shared its continuity, including The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning. With the Nexstar purchase of The CW, where does this leave the Arrowverse? Check out the details revealed so far.

Nexstar buyout

According to Deadline, the 75% buyout of The CW network by Nexstar will lead to a more profitable future in the long term. The programming and philosophy behind it will be geared towards its average age of its viewership demographic (which is apparently 58 years old).

Nexstar CFO Lee Ann Gliha reinforced that The CW was struggling with its financial returns:

It’s no secret that the CW is not profitable, 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. We expect to invest a low 9-figure amount over this 3-year period as we implement our plan. We view this amount as a proxy for a purchase price – or an investment made over time — rather than an ongoing drag on cash flow. You know us. We are profit and cash flow focused and expect this asset to achieve profitability.

Note that this buyout of The CW is not directly connected to the recent merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery. Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global will both be retaining about 12.5% controlling share of the network. Moreover, they will continue to develop and produce scripted content to be aired on The CW for the foreseeable future. Nexstar will then have the option to extend the partnership after the 2022-2023 broadcasting period.

Where does this leave the remaining Arrowverse shows?

The Flash has already been announced as ending with a shortened Season 9. This season will only have 13 episodes in 2023.

The CW had been the home of the Arrowverse, with its shared continuity of DC Comics superhero shows.

Spinning off from Arrow, The Flash debuted in 2014 and has become one of the longest running superhero shows, beating out even its contemporaries. Arrow itself lasted eight seasons while Legends of Tomorrow ran for seven seasons. As The Flash series executive producer and showrunner Eric Wallace states:

Nine seasons! Nine years of saving Central City while taking audiences on an emotional journey full of heart, humor, and spectacle.  And now Barry Allen has reached the starting gate for his last race. So many amazing people have given their talents, time, and love to bring this wonderful show to life each week. So, as we get ready to honor the show’s incredible legacy with our exciting final chapter, I want to say thank you to our phenomenal cast, writers, producers, and crew over the years who helped make The Flash such an unforgettable experience for audiences around the world.

Grant Gustin starred as Barry Allen/The Flash, along with Jesse L. Martin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, and Tom Cavanagh, with new actors joining the regular cast in later seasons. And in a memorable episode during the Arrowverse version of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Ezra Miller appeared in a cameo as the DCEU's version of Barry Allen.

Developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns, The Flash is the last remaining show on the CW that is directly connected to the Arrowverse. Superman & Lois was originally thought to be part of the Arrowverse, but the second season finale confirmed it is in a separate reality. Stargirl is also a separate reality, though it also made an appearance during the Crisis crossover.

The CW Arrowverse shows regularly had crossovers, including a version of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

On that note, Superman & Lois and Stargirl will continue to be developed and produced through The CW. The former was renewed for a third season last March, 2022, while the latter was renewed in May 2021 and will debut the third season on August 31, 2022.

The only other DC Comics superhero show that is confirmed for The CW and will be released after the Nexstar buyout is Gotham Knights. The show will center on the protégés of Batman taking over protecting the city after the Dark Knight is killed.

Although some rumors stated that it was cancelled, Gotham Knights is still currently in development and targeted to debut on December 1, 2022.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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