In the Streaming Wars, the various platforms are the equivalent of independent nations that just discovered the New World. There’s this land that is yet to be fully exploited that could make any nation that is able to conquer it a major global powerhouse. In this analogy, the content that each streaming service has is the nation’s military arsenal. And in the case of shows like “The Office,” “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” those are the nuclear bombs. To compete, each streamer has to have at least one. That’s where “The Big Bang Theory” comes in.
While CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” doesn’t have the nostalgia that is inherent with the aforementioned series, which have each earned massive dollar amounts for streaming exclusivity, the Chuck Lorre-produced sitcom about a group of geniuses that just can’t figure out the rest of humanity, is the next best thing. The series is massively popular, has a 12-season catalog, and has proven to be a syndication monster. And that would be why WarnerMedia is reportedly closing a deal “worth billions of dollars” (yes, with a ‘B’) to land the rights to ‘Big Bang.’
According to THR, WarnerMedia wants to make sure that its upcoming streaming service HBO Max (which previously spent $425 million to land “Friends”) will have an additional nuke in its arsenal. The studio has reportedly closed a deal that is potentially worth more than $1 billion to have “The Big Bang Theory” as a streaming exclusive.
However, even though this deal is worth so much money, it isn’t solely about streaming. In fact, the new agreement only covers the domestic streaming rights. But the dollar amount is worth more than $1 billion because it also includes the TBS syndication rights through 2028, meaning that ‘Big Bang’ will continue its near-constant schedule on the cable network. Still, this is a huge payday for the people involved in the sitcom.
WarnerMedia exec Robert Greenblatt said, “Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ 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.”
Series creator/producer Chuck Lorre was equally pleased, as you might expect considering the payday. He said, “I am forever grateful to have been part of something as extraordinary as ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ 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!”
Frankly, the idea that a show as terrible (seriously, it’s bad) as “The Big Bang Theory” landing a deal this large shows two things. One, it shows the necessity of large, proven catalogs of IP in the Streaming Wars. And two, it proves that the vast majority of audiences, streaming or otherwise, really just want sitcoms that are easily digestible with lowest common denominator humor.
HBO Max is set to launch in spring 2020.