Friday, May 24, 2024

CW Bosses on Doing Original TV Movies, Landing WWE’s ‘NXT,’ and Potential New Sports Rights Deals

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It’s been less than two years since the close of Nexstar’s acquisition of The CW and the network’s primetime slate could not look more different.

In addition to the broadcaster’s shifted focus to sports, unscripted fare and foreign imports/co-productions, The CW will soon be getting into the original TV movie business. In an interview with Variety, network president Dennis Miller and president of entertainment Brad Schwartz revealed that The CW is planning to air its own slate of films (in addition to acquired features) on Sunday nights beginning later this year.

The network already has a Sunday night movie block, which will continue in the fall according to the network’s newly-released fall 2024 schedule. But in addition to airing well-known studio movies, they will be producing movies of their own — as many as ten. The network is prepping a deal with an unnamed TV movie production company to handle the output, in addition to more installments of its “I Am…” series of bio docs (“I Am Steve McQueen,” “I Am Patrick Swayze”).

“We’ve been doing really well with movies on Sunday nights and we’re gonna we’re gonna start doing original movies,” Schwarz said. “We have about nine original movies coming…It’s much like a Hallmark type thing that we’ll be letting people know about soon.” Schwartz said it would “make sense” to theme some of the film to the holidays like Hallmark does with their Christmas movie lineup.

Schwartz also touched on the fates of shows like “Walker,” “All American,” and “All American: Homecoming,” all of which are holdovers from the previous CW leadership regime. None of the shows were mentioned in the new schedule, but Schwartz said that is due in part to the network shifting to a year round development cycle.

“We’re not really on this kind of upfront kind of clock anymore,” he said. “You don’t have to make decisions on these things right now. We will soon but we didn’t need to rush it.” He also referenced the fact that the network just “spent millions of dollars” to add two more episodes to the current season of “All American.”

Looking at sports, The CW has recently gotten into business with leagues like LIV Golf, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and ACC Football. According to Miller, “there’s definitely more” sports rights deals to come.

“We’ve got real estate that’s available,” he said. “The affiliates, especially on Sunday afternoon, want some. You’ve got a lot of the big players who have overbought, so we can carve out rights with some of those players. So we’re in those conversations, trying to figure out a few franchises we might be able to control ourselves, whether it’s a regular event or a special.”

Miller also addressed how the network came to be the new five-year home for “NXT,” the WWE show that features their developmental talent.

“We knew that ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown’ were a little bit beyond our budget here,” Miller said. “Then if you look, we have a lot of sports where we have kind of that next tier moving into the first tier here, whether it’s the Xfinity races leading into the Cup, or it’s NXT leading into ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown.’ So it just started to fit. Then over the course of a couple of months, we went back and forth and got the deal done.”

In other sports news, Schwartz hinted that a major host announcement for “Inside the NFL,” now in its season season on The CW, was forthcoming.

Finally, Miller took a victory lap on the news that The CW’s losses are down to $52 million from the nearly $100 million when Nexstar first took the network over.

“We have reduced our cost by $100 million here, and we’re going to continue to aggressively get that down to a breakeven number,” he said. “Then, hopefully, profitability after that in the next reasonable period of time.”

Meanwhile, Schwartz also said other shows on the current schedule that are also awaiting return include the new season of faith-based drama “The Chosen.” The fate of many other shows, including “Children Ruin Everything,” “Family Law,” “Run the Burbs,” “Sight Unseen,” “Son of a Critch,” “The Spencer Sisters” and “Wild Cards” is also TBD.

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