Mission accomplished! One of WarnerMedia brass’ top goals for the company’s upcoming streaming service HBO Max was to have the biggest comedy series of the past couple of decades, Friends and The Big Bang Theory — both produced by sibling Warner Bros. TV — at launch to help drive subscribers to the new offering.
After shelling out $425 million for the exclusive streaming rights to Friends, taking it away from Netflix, HBO Max has secured the exclusive streaming rights to all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory. This marks the first ever streaming pact for past seasons of the hugely popular series, which recently finished its 12-season run on CBS.
Under the five-year deal, all 279 episodes of Big Bang will be available on HBO Max when it launches in spring of 2020. In conjunction with that, WarnerMedia’s TBS, which has been Big Bang‘s off-network home from the start, has extended its agreement to continue airing the show through 2028.
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Financial details about the complex deal, which took months to negotiate, in part because of stipulations in co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre’s deal with WBTV, are not being disclosed. I hear it is significantly bigger than the $425 million Friends deal, ranking among the biggest streaming pacts ever, but, all in, it is below the $1 billion mark some industry sources had projected for the hot comedy property.
On one hand, Big Bang is a newer series with very strong existing fan base that has never been exposed to full-library streaming. On the other hand, because it had been held back from streaming platforms, it is unclear how the series will do; Friends did not command the huge streaming price tag when it first headed to Netflix where it became an SVOD mega hit.
“Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like The Big Bang Theory,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer. ”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 Big Bang Theory, created by Lorre and Bill Prady, premiered on CBS in September 2007. It ranks as the longest running multi-camera comedy series in U.S. TV history and ended its 12-season run as the most watched 2018-19 entertainment series, the first show to be able to make that claim in 21 years.
“I am forever grateful to have been part of something as extraordinary as The Big Bang Theory,,” Lorre said. “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. And now we are extremely excited that TBBT will be joining the HBO Max lineup and be available to both existing and future fans of the show. Laughter has legs!”
Big Bang has had a profound impact on TBS, propelling the cable network to the top of the ratings and helping to launch a slew of new shows.
“It’s not every day you get to extend the run of a cultural phenomenon that reaches nearly 35 million viewers on TBS alone every month,” said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and President, TBS, TNT and truTV. “Through HBO Max and TBS, fans will have access to this beloved comedy for generations to come.”
Produced by Chuck Lorre Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, The Big Bang Theory was executive produced by Lorre, Prady, Steve Holland, Steven Molaro, Dave Goetsch, Eric Kaplan and Maria Ferrari. The series stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.