Warner Bros. is finally in a position to bring their toys, including Supernatural, home.
The Road So Far:
Back in 2011, The CW and Netflix US struck a deal regarding the streaming of their content. HBO Go (the first version of their streaming arm) had only just opened in 2010. The contract put in place gave Netflix US an incredibly sweet legacy contract.
In 2016, that CW/Netflix deal was renewed for a few more years, but in 2019 they let it expire and renegotiated as Warner Bros. and Viacom were continuing to build the libraries on their own streaming sites. The new deal allowed any show produced before 2019 to stay on Netflix until the terms of the original deal expired. Any shows aired on the CW in 2019 or after began going to HBO Max. This is true of shows produced by either the Warner Bros. TV division or CBS Studios. They decided (for now) to keep the CW shows in one place instead of WB's going to HBO Max and the ones from CBS going to Paramount+.
What we do know is that the original deal for the streaming rights for these shows states that after a show is finished and the final season drops on Netflix -- a five year clock begins for them to keep airing it.
This means as each show meets those terms over the next few years, they will revert back into Warner Bros. hands to air on HBO Max unless alternate deals are made. This move is supposed to start happening with Reign in the fall of the year and The Vampire Diaries up next in March of 2023.
This means Supernatural will be brought back home to Warner Bros. Discovery in late November 2025, finally joining the prequel, unless Netflix US decides to back up the cash truck in order to keep one of their most popular acquired titles.(**I do wonder if The Winchesters might get a special allowance to be on Netflix US in order to keep the set together.)
The merger with Discovery saddled WarnerMedia with $55,000,000,000 in debt (yes. billion) and the deal for Nexstar to become a third and very major partner for the CW saw them strategically taking on $100,000,000,000 of the network's debt in their purchase agreement. It would make sense for both of these companies to be looking for ways to balance their books, however Netflix also hasn't had the greatest year.
So, I'm not ruling it out that there might be a last minute deal put in place where they continue to loan out their shows. However, in my humble opinion, WBD not taking such a popularly streamed show back to their library seems......silly.
For the world outside the US, there's Amazon Prime. If we want to speculate a little - if WBD were forward thinking when putting these contracts together, they would have only signed the overseas streaming contracts with Amazon until late 2025. If you want to boost up your subscriber numbers, creating a reason to funnel all long-term fans worldwide to HBO Max isn't a bad way to go.
If there are no changes, Warner Bros. Discovery will take their Supernatural tapeball and go home on November 27, 2025.
CW Shows Produced before 2019
=> Run out original contract on Netflix 5 years after series finale. As things stand now, Supernatural would likely switch from Netflix to HBO Max after November 27, 2025.
=> In Canada, India and others, Supernatural already switched from Netflix to Amazon Prime.
=> Unknown if shows produced before 2019 will move to HBO Max in late 2025.
CW Shows Produced after 2019
=> Streaming goes straight to HBO Max
UPDATE:To prove the point of how quickly the streaming landscape is changing, on Thursday, August 4, two days after the above analysis was published, Variety reported that HBO Max and Discovery+ would merge in 2023, saying,
Re: Zaslav's statement saying that some WB shows will be exclusive to HBO/HBO Max and some will be monetized by being loaned out....We don't know what is happening or how the current leadership will feel about Supernatural or CW shows in general or if they'll consider each show individually. So until we get closer to 2025 and they start announcing formally which properties are exclusive, everything is speculation.
After the summer 2023 rollout in the United States, WBD plans to take the unified HBO Max-Discovery+ platform to Latin America in the fall of 2023; Europe in early 2024; Asia Pacific in mid-2024; and additional markets in fall 2024.
In general terms, the merger makes sense in the context of HBO Max and Discovery+ being competing siblings within the new Warner Bros. Discovery family. In Part 2 of our research into Supernatural's potential future homes, Nightsky shares her homemade WBD family tree and explains how Supernatural's fate might be impacted by keeping Supernatural profits in the Warner Bros. family business!
***Final Notes: Come November 2025, if you are considering making a switch from Netflix US to HBO Max.... if Supernatural and other shows increase their subscriber base and consistently rack up high viewer numbers for HBO Max, then there's an indication that a limited-series could be worth the investment. November 2025 show rewatch, anyone?
**Gilmore Girls: People were asking about GG because of how the revival might have changed things and it also being a hot acquired property for Netflix, so I dug into it a little. This show is in its own little world apart from all the other WB/CW shows. It didn't change hands in 2012 or in any year since. And then Netflix made a Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. According to The Wrap & What's On Netflix, the timeline is that Netflix still has the main Gilmore Girls show until July, 2026 and the revival until November 25, 2026. We'll see if they move them both at the same time or renew them bot(h.