It’s all about the give and the take: while Tribune is anteing up to keep “Friends,” the sitcom’s distributor, Warner Bros., has to give up hope of breaking “Seinfeld’s” $2 billion syndie revenue record.
Industryites have watched closely the dogged efforts of Warner Bros. to clinch high-priced second-cycle syndication deals for “Friends” since April.
That’s when the company’s syndie prexy, Dick Robertson, told Variety that he expected by mid-summer his staff would have station deals wrapped up for a second term of repeats of the NBC laffer.
He also said those deals likely would see “Friends” break “Seinfeld’s” record as the top-grossing off-net sitcom.
“We think ‘Friends’ will do as well or better in its second cycle than ‘Seinfeld’ did in its second cycle,” Robertson said in April. “If we sold it for the same as what we got for cycle one, we would beat ‘Seinfeld.’ ”
All indications are that the “Friends” renewal license fee agreed upon between Warners and Tribune, whose TV stations reach more than a third of the country, is not as high as what Tribune paid to air the show in its first cycle.
Making up the difference in markets where “Friends” is not yet sold will be outright impossible — especially with stations hoarding their dollars now more than ever.