In a deal that would dwarf the mega-bucks recently shelled out to land the streaming rights to beloved sitcoms The Office and Friends, HBO Max (i.e. the upcoming Warner Bros. streaming service) is preparing to pay an insane amount of money for the streaming rights to two highly rated sitcoms that have never before been available online.
Per Deadline, HBO Max is currently in conversations to secure the streaming rights to the CBS sitcoms The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. The rights to The Big Bang Theory alone—which has thus far never appeared on any streaming service—were expected to fetch $1 billion, but Deadline notes that the deal for both of these CBS shows could reach as much as $1.5 billion.
That puts into perspective the $425 million HBO Max recently paid to bring Friends to its streaming service starting in 2020, when the Netflix deal expires. Similarly, NBCUniversal paid north of $500 million to secure the rights to The Office once that Netflix deal expires in 2021. But whereas Friends and The Office had already been streaming elsewhere at the time those deals were struck, The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men would be brand new to streaming when those rights land someplace, which is why the price tag is so high.
HBO Max reportedly wants these two shows to be available to stream alongside Friends when the service launches in Spring 2020, and they’re wiling to pay serious money to have them. While The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men don’t have the critical or awards clout that Friends or The Office had, they’re two of the most-watched sitcoms of the 21st century, so this deal is incredibly valuable.
Additionally, as HBO Max looks to lock down TBBT and Two and a Half Men, Sony Pictures Television is looking to shop the streaming rights to Seinfeld. The beloved sitcom is currently hosted on Hulu, but when that deal expires in 2021, Hulu is said to be uninterested in working hard to keep it put. Part of the reason is that now Disney owns Hulu and simply sees it as yet another distribution arm for its own content and that of FX Networks.
So now outlets like HBO Max and Netflix are fielding pitches from Sony TV about becoming the new home of Seinfeld, with a price tag in the range of the $425 million that HBO Max paid for Friends.
It’s a new dawn, folks. And as always, let this article remind you that physical media is a buy once/own always game. So as beloved shows get carted around for insane amounts of cash like an expensive game of musical chairs, take heart in knowing you could always just buy the DVDs and watch them whenever you want.