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The very fate of the Arrowverse hangs in the balance as WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are considering selling off a majority stake in The CW television network, Deadline confirmed Thursday. Per the trade report, the decision stems from a leadership change at WarnerMedia following the corporation's impending sale to Discovery by parent company AT&T.
“As many of you are aware, over the past year or so, this transformative time in our industry has led to a series of business activity across media and content companies,” CW Chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz wrote in an internal memo obtained by Deadline. “Given that environment right now, ViacomCBS and Warner Bros. are exploring strategic opportunities to optimize the value of their joint venture in The CW Network.”
Pedowitz went on to stress that "it’s too early to speculate what might happen."
But if the sale does go through (Nexstar Media Group is considered to be the favorite buyer at this time), what does that mean for the network's library of shows, particularly the DC-inspired lineup produced by Greg Berlanti that comprises a good portion of marquee value? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news, "The network isn’t profitable as a stand-alone broadcast entity, but the content produced for it is a valuable asset for other platforms at the parent companies."
As of this writing, a number of CW shows — such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow — are available to stream on Netflix as part of a billion-dollar deal struck back in 2011, though it should be noted that the agreement was not renewed as of 2019. The obvious assumption to make here is that The CW's collection of content (including non-DC titles like Supernatural, Riverdale, Walker, and Roswell, New Mexico) will be moved off the airwaves and onto in-house platforms like HBO Max.
There's already a precedent for this after the case of the now-defunct DC Universe, which saw Doom Patrol, Titans, and Harley Quinn shifted over to the WarnerMedia subscription service. In addition, Stargirl started out as a DC Universe (now a digital comic book service) exclusive before heading over to The CW. Aside from the network app, HBO Max is the only other place where fans can watch Stargirl without the need for rental or purchase fees.
Despite this uncertain future, Pedowitz urged his employees to remain optimistic. "We must continue to do what we do best, make The CW as successful and vibrant as we have always done," he wrote in the memo. "We have a lot of work ahead of us — with more original programming than ever, this season’s expansion to Saturday night, our growing digital and streaming platforms — and we thrive when we come together and build The CW together."