The CW Network will be leaving the Atlanta television market soon, just as the net is becoming a live sports force.
The once home of dramas like “The Vampire Diaries” and ” “The Flash” is now getting aggressive about competing for live sports packages.
The network announced that it has acquired the rights to NASCAR’s Xfinity series. The deal runs seven years for the second-tier package from 2025 to 2031 and will cost The CW around $115 million per year, according to Sports Business Journal. The network will carry 33 Xfinity Series races per year, along with practice sessions and qualifying events. The races will be produced by NASCAR Productions along with The CW, which is responsible for hiring on-air talent.
The CW has been on a tear recently getting into the sports game. Earlier this year, they acquired the rights to air 50 Atlantic Coast Conference college football and basketball games, teaming with Raycom Sports. It also has a deal in place to air LIV Golf tournaments.
The CW is 75 percent owned by Nexstar, a company that owns over 200 TV stations nationwide as well as the cable channel, NewsNation. It was formerly owned by CBS (now Paramount Global) and Warner Brothers/Discovery. Before Nexstar, the network aired no live sporting events. When the NASCAR deal commences it will have 48 hours of live sports programming each week.
With The CW increasingly becoming a force in live sports programming, it brings up the question as to whether these events will be seen here in the Atlanta market. WUPA TV was the incumbent CW affiliate in Atlanta, but its parent company, Paramount Global, announced in May it’s dropping the network from several of its stations including WUPA. That station will become independent this fall.
Nexstar does not own any stations in Atlanta, and as of this writing, no station in Atlanta has struck a deal to carry The CW. Considering Atlanta is the 7th largest market among Nielsen TV station rankings this year, with more than 2.6 million households, Nexstar will likely be looking for a way to bring The CW back to the Atlanta market.
Also, a key factor is NASCAR wants a TV presence in the top racing markets. Atlanta definitely fits that bill, with NASCAR events consistently highly rated in Atlanta and also the home of one of the largest race facilites in the U.S., Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“It is a unique proposition for a property to have two things: a fully distributed national broadcast network in The CW and also the bighest station owner in the country in Nexstar.” said Brian Herbst, SVP of Media and Productions for NASCAR. “When we were thinking about how this partnership could help grow NASCAR as a sport, we looked at both pieces.”
SBJ notes that Herbst stated 84% of Nexstar owned stations are in NASCAR racing markets. There was no mention about the current CW affiliation hole in Atlanta.
Sports In The ATL.com has reached out to Nexstar for comment. Will update when we hear back.
UPDATE: as of 8/8/23, WPCH or “Peachtree TV” is listed as a CW Sports only affiliate, according to Wikipedia.
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