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The CW continues to thin the ranks of its scripted roster as the network is currently in the process of a possible sale to station group Nexstar.
The Mark Pedowitz-led broadcaster has canceled Charmed, Dynasty, Roswell New Mexico and rookies The 4400 and Naomi. Still to be determined are the futures of Legacies, Tom Swift and Stargirl. In the Dark, Stargirl and Nancy Drew offshoot Tom Swift have yet to premiere. The CW has also opted to not renew In the Dark beyond its upcoming fourth season.
The news follows the cancellations of Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow last month. Sources say the leases on the soundstages for both DC Comics dramas was up and producers Warner Bros. TV did not want to extend them.
The network handed out early renewals to its core seven shows in March with pickups for All American, The Flash, Kung Fu, Nancy Drew, Riverdale, Superman & Lois and Walker. All American: Homecoming was renewed earlier Thursday.
This is easily The CW’s biggest round of cancellations in years as the younger-focused network under Pedowitz — broadcast’s longest-tenured topper — had worked for some time to stabilize and grow its roster to the point where original series were being released year-round. That changed this year with The CW’s corporate backers, CBS Studios (a division of Paramount Global) and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Warner Bros. TV, looking to divest the network from their respective portfolios.
The CW was previously driven by revenue earned from the $1 billion Netflix deal that saw all of the network’s scripted series stream on the service. The CW opted not to renew that deal because Warners and Paramount wanted to stream their originals on their respective platforms, HBO Max and Paramount+. International revenue as well has largely vanished as those rights, rather than being sold off abroad and contributing millions to their respective studios, are now also being kept in-house. Station group Nexstar is considered the frontrunner to buy The CW, though other suitors are also in the mix. A deal is not expected to come before next week’s upfront presentations to Madison Avenue ad buyers.
In the meantime, The CW has been doing its best to keep up business as usual, with Pedowitz handing out three pilot orders this year. While Nexstar knows how the shows on The CW perform, early indicators are that the station group — if a deal can be reached — could keep things business as usual in the immediate future.
Still, a sale of The CW could — over time — change the face of the network as it’s unclear what a potential buyer’s long-term plans could be.
Batwoman (canceled after three seasons), Charmed (done after four), Dynasty (five seasons), Legends of Tomorrow (seven), Roswell New Mexico (four), In the Dark (four) and rookies The 4400 and Naomi were among those left out of the March renewals. Many had been staples on the schedule because of lucrative streaming and international deals that predated the arrival of HBO Max. Dynasty, for example, is TV’s lowest-rated scripted series but because of its well-known title was a massive international hit.
The end of Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman leaves The CW with a DC roster that includes The Flash (which is expected to conclude with its previously announced ninth season) and Superman & Lois. (Prolific producer Greg Berlanti has another DC show in the works for The CW with pilot Gotham Knights, which is not considered a Batwoman spinoff.)
With Warners and CBS Studios now divesting in The CW, a new corporate parent will likely open the doors to other third-party buyers while possibly offering some sort of guarantee to both studios for a certain volume of shows for a predetermined time frame. At the same time, The CW will now have room on the schedule for possible new series and other low-cost unscripted programming as its corporate parents look to reduce expenses for a new potential owner.
The CW has three pilots in the works, all of them either spinoffs or based on well-known properties: DC Comics drama Gotham Knights; Walker: Independence, a prequel of the reboot starring Jared Padalecki; and Supernatural prequel The Winchesters. All have ties to The CW’s longest-running drama, Supernatural, as Misha Collins stars in Gotham Knights. All are expected to get picked up to series.
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