With little fanfare, The CW has launched a free, ad-supported live streaming service with 12 channels.
The service is available on The CW’s website under the “Channels” section. Clicking on it will bring you live feeds from a dozen channels, ranging from Ion to the Game Show Channel and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Cord Cutters News has confirmed it’s also available on The CW’s Roku app.
Update: A spokesman for The CW confirmed the stream launched on Wednesday, but is still in the “soft launch/beta” stage. That’s evident by the limited lineup of channels, and the fact that it’s not available on The CW app itself. The spokesman noted that more channels are coming to the service.
The CW is just the latest company to jump into the free, ad-supported streaming game with an array of channels. Everyone from Roku to Paramount’s Pluto TV and even TV makers like Samsung have launched their own so-called FAST platform, with the networks typically numbering in the hundreds. Samsung TV Plus just announced passing 350 earlier this week.
These services have proven to increasingly popular with consumers, particularly those feeling burned from the ever-increasing prices from subscription streaming services and cable. They offer a cable TV-like experience with a channel guide and a myriad of networks with live-streaming content that you can’t skip or rewind.
The network has long had an app with on-demand streaming content, but that had largely been for its own shows and a few older programs it acquired. This service appears to be brand new.
The CW’s streaming service isn’t a complete shocker. Entertainment President Brad Schwartz told The Hollywood Reporter in August that he intended to launch a CW FAST service on Roku and Pluto TV, and explained that the network axed several popular shows because it lacked the right to air them on streaming.
The CW itself is undergoing a big transformation under new parent Nexstar, which took majority control of the network last year. The company wants to reposition the network so it appeals to a broader audience, adding sports like LIV Golf and Nascar, and getting away from the teen dramas and DC superhero shows that defined its identity for so long.
The new streaming service is another example of this change. For now, this is just the initial, not-ready-for-primetime version of that service. We’ll keep an eye on it to see how it expands from here.