The CW has found its new programming exec.
NBCUniversal alum Ryan Sharkey has joined the Nexstar-controlled broadcast network as senior vp programming and content strategy. Sharkey will report to CW president of entertainment Brad Schwartz and fill the void created by the June departure of Kevin Levy.
Levy, who was with The CW since its launch in 2006, had served as exec vp program planning, scheduling and acquisitions. While Sharkey’s title differs from Levy’s, the role is effectively the same. Sharkey will lead scheduling and acquisitions teams and be based in New York while also spearheading the network’s growth and its AVOD platform and FAST channels.
“As The CW explores new content that will resonate with viewers on both our linear and streaming channels, Ryan is the ideal candidate to lead our programming team,” said Schwartz. “With Ryan’s vast experience in all areas of network scheduling and acquisitions, we’re confident he will set The CW up for immeasurable success.”
Sharkey most recently served as senior vp content acquisitions at NBCUniversal, where he curated programming across the conglomerate’s portfolio of cable networks, NBC and Peacock. He joined NBC in 2002 after training on GE’s corporate audit staff. He started his career with NBCU as a financial analyst responsible for programming budgets at CNBC, USA Network and Syfy. He worked on pacts that brought the Harry Potter franchise to Peacock and Modern Family’s big syndication deal.
“The CW is going through an exciting transformation, and I’m thrilled to join the team at this opportune time to grow the network and its digital platforms into a profitable destination for premier programming,” said Sharkey. “I look forward to leveraging my long-standing industry partnerships, financial background and creative dealmaking skills to enhance the intense work Brad and his team have put into this transition. Brad is an energizing creative force, and I can’t wait to partner with him.”
Levy opted to exit his post at The CW in August and was one of the last remaining traces of the network’s Mark Pedowitz regime. Since Nexstar took over majority control of The CW last October, the station group has pushed out all of Pedowitz’s top lieutenants and canceled all but four of its U.S.-produced scripted originals from CBS Studios and Warner Bros. Television Group, which each retain a 12.5 percent stake in the younger-skewing network.
Nexstar, with Pop TV grad Schwartz at the helm, is looking to make The CW profitable for the first time in its history. The network, under WB and CBS control, was designed to make money for both studios through the sales of its lower-cost programming to international buyers and a $1 billion output deal with Netflix. With those revenue avenues closed amid the need to keep programming for Max and Paramount+, both studios — who each made billions via the network — ultimately chose to sell it. The CW’s remaining originals — All American and its Homecoming spinoff, Superman & Lois and Walker — are expected to air around April. Schwartz has instead focused on lower-cost acquired programs as he looks to reduce spending across the board.