“Friends” is getting some new neighbors at HBO Max. The streaming service from AT&T’s WarnerMedia has signed a big deal, reportedly worth over $1 billion, for the exclusive streaming and syndication rights for “The Big Bang Theory” over the next five years.
The deal comes as streaming media services look to shore up their original programming offerings with known quantities that have proven to be enduring hits in syndication. It’s the model that originally brought Netflix’s streaming service to near-ubiquity and shows the enduring power of the sitcom format.
In the past year over $2.4 billion has been committed to locking down fan-favorite comedies, like “Friends,” “The Office,” “Seinfeld” and now the record-setting deal for “The Big Bang Theory.”
Yesterday, The Los Angeles Times broke the news that Netflix had acquired the rights to Seinfeld in a deal worth over $500 million. That deal was struck after Netflix lost two of its tentpole streaming properties — “Friends” to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and “The Office” to NBCUniversal’s new (terribly, terribly, named) streaming service, The Peacock.
All 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory” — starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco, will be available to stream in 2020 when HBO Max launches.
“Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ ” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, told The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news. “We’re thrilled that HBO Max will be the exclusive streaming home for this comedy juggernaut when we launch in the spring of 2020. This show has been a hit virtually around the globe, it’s one of the biggest shows on broadcast television of the last decade, and the fact that we get to bring it to a streaming platform for the first time in the U.S. is a coup for our new offering.”
The competition for talent for new productions and time-tested fan favorites has reached a fever pitch in the entertainment industry as studios, networks and technology companies, including Apple, Amazon and Netflix, shell out big dollars to capture audience in the new media landscape.
“I am forever grateful to have been part of something as extraordinary as ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ ” creator Chuck Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter. “All of us — Bill Prady, Steven Molaro, Steve Holland, and the amazing writing staff, cast and crew — recognize that 12 seasons of laughter is a gift to be cherished.”
Each of the stars and show creators Lorre and Prady, along with executive producers Molaro and Holland, stand to become very rich off of the deal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lorre alone will pocket somewhere between 30% and 40% of the new syndication deal.