The CW has secured more TV stations for next season while talks with its top affiliate group, Tribune, continue. Gray Television has inked a new multi-year extension of the company’s CW affiliation agreements, covering 23 markets or 4.62% the country. That includes 19 existing CW affiliates and four new stations to carry the network in Madison, WI; Fargo, ND; Alexandria, LA; and Laredo, TX.
Gray, which owns stations in mid-size markets (top is No. 59 Knoxville, TN) will become the second-largest CW affiliate group by number of stations in the country behind Sinclair (24). Over the past year, the CW renewed its affiliate agreement with Sinclair as well as Media General’s 16 stations, along with some smaller pacts. There is another renewal pending and some existing station deals go beyond this season, so soon The CW is expected to have locked in affiliate stations for years in virtually all markets except those controlled by Tribune that include New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Negotiations between Tribune and The CW parents CBS and Warner Bros., which have been difficult, are expected to come to a head in early 2016 as the fate of the stations in play has to be determined months ahead of the expiration of the current affiliate agreement next fall.
“Over the past two years, we have aggressively grown and expanded our CW portfolio,” said Gray CEO Hilton H. Howell, Jr. “Meanwhile, The CW’s continuing ratings increases and program successes have made CW’s programming more valuable to our audiences, clients, and MVPD partners. ”