‘Friends’ for 2 more years

NBC and Warner Bros. TV have struck an agreement to renew the web’s Thursday night sitcom “Friends” through the 1999-2000 season, the network confirmed Thursday.

“Friends” is entering its fourth season on the Peacock web, and this is the first time license fees have been renegotiated. Warner Bros. and NBC would not comment on terms of the deal, but sources said license fees on the show have gone from about $1 million to about $3 million an episode.

The pricey $3-million per seg is similar in scope to what NBC paid Paramount during its renewal of “Frasier” (Daily Variety, March 4). “Frasier” license fees are between $2 million-$3 million. It comes on top of the roughly $4 million per episode the studio is expected to make on the show in syndication.

NBC on the other hand, makes about $350,000 per 30-second spot during the show, sources say.

Basic terms of the new “Friends” deal were struck around the time that Warner Bros. renegotiated salaries for the “Friends” cast, but it took months before the final contracts were sealed, sources said.

The cast members of “Friends,” who also reupped for two years, will receive about $85,000 per episode next season, with salaries rising to $100,000 in year five and $120,000 in year six.

“Friends,” which airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, is one the key elements to NBC’s Thursday powerhouse, which includes “Seinfeld” and “ER.” The show is produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Prods. in association with Warner Bros. TV, which also have teamed to produce NBC’s upcoming 9:30 p.m. Thursday sitcom “Veronica’s Closet.”

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