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HBO Max Sets Massive Deal to Exclusively Stream ‘Big Bang Theory’

Bazinga! HBO Max has prevailed in the auction for streaming rights to “The Big Bang Theory,” one of the last major comedy franchises that has yet to be licensed for the binge-watching era.

WarnerMedia’s nascent streaming platform will have exclusive rights to 12 seasons of the show from Warner Bros. Television and co-creators/executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. All 279 episodes of “Big Bang” will be available on HBO Max when it launches next spring.

The deal also includes an extension of cable rerun rights to “Big Bang” for WarnerMedia’s TBS. TBS has consistently ranked among cable’s top 5 outlets ever since “Big Bang” reruns debuted on the cabler in 2011. The initial round of “Big Bang” syndication sales in 2010 set records with license fees of upwards of $600 million from TBS and local TV stations around the country.

Financial details of the HBO Max streaming sale were not disclosed. The rights are sure to have fetched a hefty nine-figure pricetag. “Big Bang” is a rare prize of a popular show — as big as it gets in the past decade — that has yet to be exploited in the streaming arena. Although the transaction is among sibling units of WarnerMedia, there is no question that the deal terms have passed a tough sniff test by representatives for Lorre, Prady and other “Big Bang” profit participants.

“I am forever grateful to have been part of something as extraordinary as ‘The Big Bang Theory,’” Lorre said in a statement. “All of us — Bill Prady, (producers) 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!”

Nabbing “Big Bang” was a clear imperative for HBO Max as WarnerMedia seeks to build a streaming platform companion to HBO that can command an extra dollar or two above HBO’s monthly asking price of $14-$15.

WarnerMedia also opened its wallet to secure rights for HBO Max to another home-grown blockbuster, the beloved NBC sitcom “Friends,” which will move to HBO Max from Netflix next year.

WarnerMedia Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt described the “Big Bang” deal as “a coup” for the company.

“Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’” said Greenblatt. “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 Big Bang Theory” bowed on CBS in 2007 and became the longest running multi-camera comedy series in U.S. history. It reigned as TV’s most-watched comedy series for the bulk of its dozen seasons. The series signed off in May with about 18 million live viewers for its hourlong finale.

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