Netflix's Deal With The CW Is Ending, Here's What It Means For The Arrow-verse And Other Shows

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(Image credit: The CW)

The CW has been the place to be on the small screen for DC superhero action for the better part of a decade thanks to the Arrow-verse, which kicked off back in 2012 with Arrow. The network boasts some non-superhero series as well that may not generate the highest of ratings when airing live, but tend to attract solid numbers when it comes to post-live streaming on Netflix. Now, Netflix's deal with The CW is ending, and it means changes are in store.

Let's start at the beginning. Netflix and The CW first struck a deal back in 2011, which was before the Arrow-verse and when The CW was on shakier ground. After the success of the initial deal, the two companies renewed their deal in 2016, with one exciting change for viewers: full seasons would become available on the streaming service just eight days after that season finale.

And it's been a very good thing for The CW to this point! For example, Riverdale experienced a huge uptick thanks to streamers giving the show a shot between Seasons 1 and 2. The deal seemed mutually beneficial, but it's coming to an end.

This may seem disastrous to viewers who like to get their CW fix courtesy of Netflix, which currently streams all four shows of the Arrow-verse, Black Lightning, all three installments in the Vampire Diaries franchise, Riverdale, Jane the Virgin, and more. Fortunately, the end of the deal doesn't actually mean all of these shows will disappear from Netflix.

The expiration of the 2016 deal this spring means that new shows from The CW will not automatically begin streaming on Netflix following the conclusion of their seasons. Deadline reports that previous seasons of CW series that premiered throughout the 2018-2019 TV season will continue streaming on Netflix during their runs on the network and for an unspecified number of years following their finales. So, Netflix won't necessarily lose all of Arrow once it ends next season.

The end of the deal also doesn't mean that no new CW series will ever end up on Netflix again. Netflix can still bid on the shows for streaming rights in a competitive market. The first four shows of the Arrow-verse aren't going anywhere, but Batwoman is unlikely to join them on Netflix. Warner Bros TV is reportedly likely to hold Batwoman for the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service, where it may be joined by Friends sooner or later.

In fact, the three new series coming to The CW (Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene) are likely to be shopped around for streaming deals by their production studios rather than by The CW. Batwoman is 100% owned by WBTV, and CBS TV Studios has Nancy Drew. As for Katy Keene, the Riverdale spinoff is produced and distributed by WBTV with financing from CBS Studios. Will Katy Keene and Nancy Drew at least come to Netflix?

We'll have to wait and see. We're still months away from Batwoman and Nancy Drew's fall premieres, and Katy Keene won't debut until midseason. There are plenty of viewing options on Netflix and on broadcast television during summer, though, so there's plenty to keep TV fans busy.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).