WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are exploring the possible sale of a significant stake or all of the CW Network, which they jointly own, according to a report late Wednesday.
Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group, which is the nation’s largest owner of TV stations and owner of affiliate stations of the CW in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, is the leading contender, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Discussions to buy the network, which is known for shows like “Riverdale,” “All American,” “The Flash” and “Supernatural,” could result in a deal “soon,” the report said. There are other suitors, but Nexstar’s talks have been described as the most advanced.
AT&T, ViacomCBS, CW Network, and Nexstar Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The most likely scenario, according to the Journal, is that Nexstar takes a controlling stake in the CW, with WarnerMedia and CBS remaining as minority owners. Long before it merged with Viacom, CBS and WarnerMedia entered into a joint venture in 2006 to buy the young-skewing network, which sources say has never been profitable.
The Journal said CBS and WarnerMedia have been exploring strategic options for the CW Network for several months.
That jibes with AT&T’s mission to unwind expensive media investments like WarnerMedia, in order to focus on its wireless and internet services business.
In May, AT&T announced that is was combining WarnerMedia’s media assets, which include Warner Bros., HBO and CNN, with Discovery, owner of HGTV, Animal Planet and Food Network, to create a standalone company, Warner Bros. Discovery, in a $43 billion deal that is expected to close in mid-2022.
ViacomCBS has also been in the process of shedding assets as it digests its merger of Viacom and CBS and orients toward a streaming-focused future. In August, it sold CBS’ corporate headquarters in New York for $760 million, and in November, it sold the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles for $1.8 billion.
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