Nexstar CEO Perry Sook and execs of the nation’s biggest broadcaster said its imprimatur will be evident on The CW schedule for the 2023-2024 season with lower cost, broader appeal, and more unscripted fare and minimal content from former co-owners Warner Brothers Discovery and Paramount Global.
There may some contractual holdovers. And going forward, “Warner and Paramount are not precluded from selling us programming. It’s just going to have to be a financial deal that we like. And there may be a couple of shows that distinguish themselves this year that we want to hold over to next year,” Sook told investors on a call following third quarter earnings. Nexstar, the biggest owner of The CW affiliates, closed its purchase of the network on Sept. 30, the last day of the quarter.
Sook praised the network’s new entertainment chief Brad Schwartz as “a very gifted programming executive,” “a creative mind” and a “very creative dealmaker” with “a sharp eye for talent.” The former head of Pop TV, “on a much smaller budget that we have given him at The CW, was able to find and develop a show called Schitt’s Creek. We told him, ‘Your job is easy. Just go find a couple more of those and we’ll be in fine shape at The CW,’” he said, referring to the Emmy juggernaut.
“I like the direction we are headed” with The CW, Sook added.
The goal is to cut cost and ultimately turn a profit. CFO Lee Ann Gliha reiterated plans for the network to pull into the black by 2025. She said Nexstar anticipates The CW will generate just under $70 million of revenue in the current fourth quarter. And, “We are executing on our synergies and getting the right people in place,” she added, predicting incremental costs of a “low eight-figure amount” for restructuring charges in the quarter, apparently for severance. There have been dozens of layoffs at the network.
Separately, asked on the call about the possibility of NBC turning over its third primetime hour to local affiliates, Sook sounded thrilled. “It would good. We will make more money with an hour of news at ten than with an hour of network programming.” He said Nexstar already has a number of Fox and CW affiliates that broadcast news in last hour of primetime “and they are extremely profitable.” Also, if NBC movies from 89 hours a week to 81 or 82 hours of network time, ”Then we would pay them less,” another advantage.
Sook also noted a recent deal with Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer to air 15 NBA games this season exclusively on affiliate KTLA and said Nexstar is in talks with a other team owners in in areas where Nexstar has CW or other stations with the bandwidth to air games. The Clipper deal was announced in September, in consultation and with the consent of RSNs, which will have the rest of the games, and hope to pique viewers’ interest in a regional sports package. “It’s a kind of welcome mat package,” Sook said.
The station will produce pre-game, halftime and post-game programming to surround the games. KTLA 5 broadcasts of LA Clippers basketball games will also will be carried by a number of Nexstar Media Inc.’s local television stations across Southern California, including KSWB-TV in San Diego, KGET-TV in Bakerfield, and KSEE-TV in Fresno.