CW president Brad Schwartz explained the reasoning behind the death of the network’s Arrowverse shows.
The recent end of The Flash with Season 9 brought the Arrowverse to a swift and perhaps unceremonious end. One by one, Flash’s sister series like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow either ended or were canceled. And future programming that may have been in the pipeline, such as Justice U, ceased development.
Indeed, the once vital and robust shared superhero universe dwindled to but a single series which has now concluded. But the final nail in the Arrowverse’s coffin seemed to come from The CW network (which was home to these series) being acquired by the Nexstar Group in 2022.
Why The CW Killed DC's Arrowverse
The Hollywood Reporter interviewed the recently-installed president of The CW, Brad Schwartz, who got the job after Warner Bros. sold the network to Nexstar. He took over for longtime CEO Mark Pedowitz, who continually championed the Arrowverse and greenlit most of its shows during his tenure.
Schwartz, who was previously quoted as saying the primary goal was to revamp The CW into something profitable after years of operating at a loss, shed further light onto the decisions made that ultimately ended the Arrowverse:
“They were the hallmarks of The CW for a long time. As we look forward and try to make this network bigger and profitable, frankly, as much as we all love those shows and they had their time, they’re not working on linear.”
The CW has been looking into adding cheaper, unscripted programming as it attempts to expand its market reach into older demographics. As such, the Arrowverse and related series like Superman & Lois had to go because, in the eyes of the network, they were too expensive to be produced.
It should also be noted that Superman & Lois has not actually been canceled yet and is still hanging on the verge. But with that show’s budget being as high as it is, renewal odds appear slim.
Schwartz continued, remarking on the fact that The CW doesn’t possess the streaming rights to previous seasons of shows like Superman and Gotham Knights (the former currently streams on Max) which is reportedly to the network’s great detriment:
“We don’t have the rights to prior seasons. It was frustrating for us because you can’t tell people to go catch up on Superman & Lois and it’s on HBO Max and it’s the 30th priority there. It’s tough. If you want to be in business on a show and connect that show to audiences everywhere, you need to have the whole library.”
Additionally, according to Schwartz, young adult viewers (such as the ones that comprised much of the Arrowverse’s audience) just aren’t into broadcast television anymore, as today’s youth are far more interested in streaming originals. Schwartz intends to strategically use the knowledge of this statistic as an “opportunity” to reach different audience bases:
“That audience has abandoned broadcast, hence the opportunity we have to broaden the audience.”
What Will Become of the Arrowverse?
First things first, The CW’s plan to revolutionize its business by targeting older audiences with reality shows and sports feels like a misguided gamble.
Unscripted series do pull in very sizable audiences but they often fall short of capturing the zeitgeist unless they’re really off-the-walls (See: Dr. Pimple Popper or The Real Housewives family of shows). And considering that The CW is importing the questionably-titled FBoy Island from Max, these are the exact types of shows the new leadership intends to pump out.
Factor that in with the fact that advertisers traditionally go after younger consumers and it could be that The CW is sailing into a perfect storm of their own making.
Moving on, the Arrowverse appears as dead as a doornail at this point. The Flash has reached the finish line, Superman & Lois isn’t even connected to that world, and Justice U got axed before cameras even began to roll.
Moreover, DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran are remaking the DC Universe in multiple formats, including television. Whether or not an Arrowverse continuation or follow-up would fit into their plans remains to be seen, but it just doesn’t seem likely the pair would go out of their way to resurrect what’s come before over creating new content.
Stephen Amell, former Arrow star who recently came back for a guest spot on Flash, said at the time that he’d be interested in doing an Arrowverse movie or limited series that did away with the trappings and constraints of network fare and was allowed to take a few more risks.
Amell probably has a bit of sway, meaning that if he wanted to star in such a project, he might be able to get the wheels in motion. But it’s up in the air as to whether he’d pursue that avenue or not.