Many of the CW’s original series have found new audiences through a long-standing streaming agreement with Netflix, but that deal is coming to an end.
Netflix’s agreement with The CW’s parent companies, Warner Bros. and CBS, ensured that CW series like Riverdale, Supernatural, The Flash, and Arrow automatically ended up on Netflix after a season’s initial run on network television. The deal was first signed in 2011 and re-upped in 2016, but the network doesn’t plan to renew it when the contract expires this spring, The Verge can confirm. That means new shows, such as Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene won’t automatically end up on Netflix.
Still, many beloved CW series will remain on Netflix, according to the company. Netflix will continue to receive new seasons of shows that are already on the streaming service, like Riverdale, Flash, and Dynasty. Additionally, any CW shows that premiered through this most recent 2018 / 2019 season will remain on Netflix throughout their lifetime, meaning nothing is going to leave the service either.
As the streaming wars start to chug along and networks start to pull their deals with the company, Netflix executives are less interested in full output deals like what they had with The CW, a spokesperson told The Verge. Instead, more focus will be placed on grabbing specific series that are beneficial to Netflix subscribers.
Even still, series like Katy Keene or Nancy Drew could still end up on Netflix — it all depends on licensing and bidding. Many of The CW’s shows are either produced by CBS or Warner Bros. Television, and use licensed characters from publishers like DC Comics (Batwoman) or Archie Comics (Riverdale). Nancy Drew is solely owned by CBS TV Studios, as Deadline reported. Katy Keene has two owners: it’s produced and distributed by Warner Bros. TV, but owned by CBS TV.
Basically, these aren’t guaranteed to end up as exclusives on WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service launching this year. They also aren’t likely to wind up exclusively on CBS’s established standalone streaming service, CBS All Access. Nancy Drew and Katy Keene might wind up on Netflix, but the network will now have to bid on the streaming rights to the series alongside other potentially interested candidates instead of receiving them automatically.
Batwoman, however, is solely owned by Warner Bros. TV. As Deadline points out, “Batwoman is earmarked for the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service.” This falls in line with previous statements that Kevin Reilly, the WarnerMedia executive overseeing AT&T’s new streaming service, told reporters a couple of months ago. WarnerMedia and AT&T want their network’s best series exclusively on their own platform. Batwoman, which is one of the most anticipated new series to come out of The CW’s DC Arrowverse, will most likely stream exclusively on WarnerMedia’s new streaming service.
The CW’s decision to not renew its contract with Netflix may be seen as a blow to the streaming service, but both companies benefited from the agreement. Riverdale saw a ratings spike when the second season premiered on the network, and that was attributed to the popularity Riverdale found on Netflix after the first season ended and people were able to stream it, according to Deadline. At the same time, many of Netflix’s most adored series among subscribers belong to The CW.
Networks and studios are moving into an era of streaming exclusivity, meaning that more of these executive decisions to end output deals with Netflix and Hulu are likely to occur. The CW, in many ways, may just be the tip of the iceberg.