CBS’ hot comedy series The Big Bang Theory will continue on the network through the 2013-14 season with a big three-year renewal for the Warner Bros. TV-produced series. The deal is reminiscent of CBS’ 3-year pickup of WBTV’s other hit CBS comedy, Two and a Half Men, two years ago, and this time, the studio didn’t have to sue the network to get it. (In December 2008, WBTV filed a $49 million lawsuit against CBS over Men license fees and production-cost reimbursements, and the March 2009 3-year renewal of Men and 2-year pickup for Big Bang factored into the settlement of that lawsuit.
A lot changed since March 2009 for Big Bang, which at the time was a sophomore comedy that provided CBS with a solid 8 PM anchor. The following season, the comedy exploded in the ratings behind Men at 9:30 PM. And this fall, it successfully migrated to Thursday night, quickly becoming the top-rated series on the most lucrative night of television. The series’ rising importance to CBS has factored into the big new license fee for the show, said to be north of $4 million per episode, more than quadrupling the comedy’s current license fee. (Also, the CBS-WBTV deal for Big Bang reportedly doesn’t include a deficit recovery clause like the one in the Men pact that led to the legal action.)
The renewal at CBS was also a no-brainer for WBTV, which has a lot riding on the longevity of Big Bang after netting more than $2 million per-episode in syndication sales in May. Taking the series to another network could’ve jeopardized the series’ long-term prospects as, in today’s environment, multicamera comedies work best and last the longest on CBS.
Here is CBS’ release on the pickup:
CBS Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television have reached a multi-year broadcast agreement for the top-rated, critically acclaimed comedy, THE BIG BANG THEORY, it was announced today by Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment, and Peter Roth, President, Warner Bros. Television. The agreement renews THE BIG BANG THEORY for an additional three years, extending it through the 2013-2014 season.
“It doesn’t take a theoretical physicist to see why this show is a BIG part of our comedy future,” said Nina Tassler. “From ratings to critical acclaim to pop culture buzz, it’s struck a chord on all levels. The creative genius of Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady and the on-camera talents of an amazing young ensemble have created a comedy that will entertain viewers for a long time. We’re proud to partner with Warner Bros. on another highly successful, long-running comedy.”
“We are delighted and grateful that CBS has once again rewarded THE BIG BANG THEORY with a multiyear renewal,” said Peter Roth. “This is a testament to the inspired and brilliant work of the show’s entire creative team, and we look forward to continuing this highly successful partnership.”
THE BIG BANG THEORY, which premiered in September 2007, had been part of CBS’s top-rated Monday comedy block for the past three seasons. It finished 2009-2010 as primetime’s #1 scripted series in adults 18-49 and the #2 comedy among viewers. Currently in its fourth season, THE BIG BANG THEORY has successfully transitioned to its new Thursday time period (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT), emerging as the night’s dominant comedy in viewers and adults 18-49. It has also helped launch a second night of comedy for the Network. THE BIG BANG THEORY is averaging 13.89 million viewers (+7% versus the year ago time period), 4.7/14 in adults 18-49 (+15%) and 5.9/16 in adults 25-54 (+16%).