CBS, Warner Bros. discuss online version of CW

CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. are pondering an SVOD version of their CW Network as the broadcast station affiliation agreement the two companies used to start the network 10 years ago gets ready to expire.

According to Bloomberg, the pair are discussing a monthly subscription service that would cost $2 to $4 a month, delivering live streams of The Flash, Jane the Virgin and Arrow to the CW's younger viewership, along with the usual SVOD smorgasbord of on-demand content.

It's unclear at this point as to how much of the talk centers around building leverage for ongoing talks with Tribune Media, which operates affiliate stations for 13 of the CW's biggest markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Tribune is reportedly balking at paying higher reverse compensation to CBS and Warner to carry CW. Tribune receives broadcast retransmission licensing fees from pay-TV operators and pays some of that money back to CBS and Warner Bros. in the form of reverse compensation. The network operators reportedly want that fee increased. 

Warner Bros. partnered with CBS to launch CW in 2006, upon the expiration of an affiliation deal with Tribune to carry the lightly watched WB Network. At the time, CBS and Warner signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with Tribune.

CW is averaging 1.92 million viewers in prime time this season through early January, a drop from 2.2 million viewers in the 2014-15 season, according to Nielsen. The network draws only a small fraction of what the Big Four broadcast networks do, but its audience has always skewed far younger.

CBS, meanwhile, has boldly ventured into the OTT arena already with the launch of CBS All Access, a $5.99 service that lets users stream every current CBS show, save for NFL Football. Users also have access to a wide variety of archival CBS programming.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story
- read this TV News Check story

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