The CW Shows to Find New Streaming Home as Netflix Deal Not Renewed

Riverdale Still Chapter Thirty-Five Brave New World Episode - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of The CW

Netflix will soon have to make do with fewer shows from The CW. 

The two companies have not renewed their licensing agreement, which expired this spring, meaning that new series from the broadcaster will no longer automatically begin streaming on Netflix at the end of their seasons. 

The CW and Netflix have long had a symbiotic relationship. Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW, hailed their first subscription streaming pact, struck in 2011 amid an uncertain time for the fledgling broadcast network, as a "landmark" deal. When the companies renewed the deal in 2016, they agreed to make full seasons available for streaming just eight days after a show's season finale. Since then, Netflix has been the streaming home for such series as The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Netflix has been helpful in getting certain CW shows made and seen. The streamer bought international first-run rights for Riverdale in the type of co-licensing deal that Netflix exec Bela Bajaria previously noted has "afforded certain shows to go straight to series and increased production value because we come in early to partner." The streaming arrangement also has been key to boosting viewership of Riverdale, which saw a 60 percent uptick in live viewership between its first-season and second-season premieres after it streamed on Netflix.  

The ending of the deal doesn't mean all those shows will immediately disappear. Shows that premiered during the 2018-19 television season will also continue to stream on Netflix throughout their lifetime, and Netflix will continue to have the subscription streaming rights to current shows like Riverdale, The Flash and Dynasty. It also will have the option of bidding on the streaming rights for individual shows like the upcoming Nancy Drew and Katy Keene series. 

But there's a good chance that CW owners WarnerMedia and CBS will look to shore up the rights to the shows that they produce for their streaming services. WarnerMedia executives, especially, have been vocal about their desire to make popular titles available on the forthcoming streamer, which will offer content from across the HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner catalogs.

The CW is the latest network to pull back on these substantial and lucrative streaming deals as the entertainment companies that once supplied Netflix look to create their own direct-to-consumer streaming platforms. Disney ended its licensing pact with Netflix as it began to put the pieces in place for its Disney+ offering, and NBCUniversal executives have signaled that they want to bring The Office, the No. 1 most-streamed show on Netflix, to their future streaming service after Netflix's deal for the series expires in 2021

Netflix, which has long relied on licensed library programming to bolster the content offering for its 149 million global subscribers, is spending significantly to pump out a wide array of originals that will fill in the gaps left by these shows. 

Deadline first reported that the deal between Netflix and The CW had ended.