In what is easily a record-setting five-year deal, HBO Max has secured the exclusive domestic streaming rights to "The Big Bang Theory". As part of the deal with Warner Bros. Television, the multicamera comedy, created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, has also extended its syndication deal with TBS and will air on the WarnerMedia-owned basic cable network through 2028, The Hollywood Reporter says.
All 12 seasons of the comedy starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco will be available to stream for the first time ever on WarnerMedia-backed HBO Max when the direct-to-consumer service launches in spring 2020. (A formal launch date has not yet been determined.)
Sources estimate that the deal, including both the streaming end and syndication extension, is worth billions of dollars. By comparison, HBO Max paid $425 million over five years ($85 million per year) to move mega-hit "Friends" from Netflix and onto its own platform. (Friends, like Big Bang Theory, is produced by Warners.)
"Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like The Big Bang Theory,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer. "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 market for library content has exploded in the past year as media titans Disney, Comcast and Warners all launch streaming services of their own in a bid to better position their respective companies for the future and compete with Netflix, Amazon and upstart Apple. NBCUniversal, meanwhile, paid $500 million to exclusive domestic streaming rights to The Office. Netflix, after losing both "The Office" and "Friends", this week shelled out more than $500 million for exclusive global streaming rights to Sony TV's "Seinfeld". (Helping Netflix in that deal was the fact that Sony TV does not have a streaming service of its own.)
"The Big Bang Theory" wrapped its run in May as television's longest-running multicamera comedy series ever (besting Cheers) and signed off as broadcast's No. 1 scripted half-hour in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic. The comedy, exec produced by Lorre, Prady, Steve Molaro and Steve Holland, launched a larger franchise when its Parsons-produced prequel comedy, "Young Sheldon", connected right out of the gate for CBS. Young Sheldon was renewed for two additional seasons (through its fourth cycle in 2021).