BoJack Horseman may soon be coming to a cable network near you, without the need of a Netflix subscription. Traditionally, on both broadcast networks and cable channels, series aim for a certain number of original-run episodes in order to hit that sweet, sweet syndication mark. This number, which falls anywhere from 65 episodes (a lot of cartoons fall into this category) to 100 episodes (with 88 being the current target), basically means that a show can sign a syndication deal with a network in order to air reruns, reap great financial rewards and capitalize on its popularity, potentially for years to come. Netflix, a powerful outsider as far as this traditional production system is concerned, is now making the interesting move of shopping syndication rights for its original, animated, award-winning series, BoJack Horseman.
Variety reported on this unusual sale for the streaming-content giant, a move that’s historically been the bread and butter of traditionally produced TV shows. It’s a very smart decision from the very smart folks at distributor Debmar-Mercury and Michael Eisner, head of the show’s production partner, Tornante Co., who possess the off-network rights for BoJack Horseman. And it’s likely going to be a nice payoff for the show’s producers and stars, including Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Steven A. Cohen, Noel Bright, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Paul F. Tompkins.
Here’s what Eisner had to say about the show:
“I’m very proud of ‘BoJack Horseman.’ Who knew a washed up sitcom star, who happens to be a horse, would drive the best reviews of any television show or movie in which I have been involved in my career? This business is all about who you work with creatively. Thank goodness (creator) Raphael Bob-Waksberg walked through my door.”
Debmar-Mercury’s own Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein are quite savvy, saying that, “In an era when addictive, laugh-out-loud comedies are in short supply, ‘BoJack Horseman’ delivers what cable networks have been missing.” The deals that come from this move will certainly be worth watching, especially to see just how much value BoJack Horseman brings to the table in the much larger pool of TV titles. And it’s incredibly interesting to note that, even as Netflix pulls audiences away from network, cable, and premium channels, they’re now circling back around to sell those popular titles to the traditional channels struggling to maintain said audiences. That’s fascinating in its ruthlessness.
As for BoJack Horseman itself, which just aired its fourth season last fall and currently has 48 episodes on display on Netflix with a Season 5 debuting this year, I earnestly hope that this whole syndication deal works its way back into the show’s scripts somehow in a not-yet-announced Season 6. We’ll also be keeping an eye on just how long BoJack Horseman will be churning out new episodes, but there’s no reason to stop now.