Bazinga! CBS Renews The Big Bang Theory Through 2016-17

Top comedy earns another long-term pickup

Nerds rejoice: CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory for another three years, ensuring that Leonard, Sheldon and the rest of the gang will be yukking it up through the 2016-17 broadcast TV season.

The duration of the pickup is not a shocker; when CBS last renewed Big Bang in January 2011, it was for a three-season run.

Now in its seventh season, Big Bang is broadcast’s top-rated scripted series, averaging a 5.3 in the adults 18-49 demo, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. (The Walking Dead is far and away the highest-rated show on the tube, averaging a whopping 6.7 in the dollar demo through the first 13 episodes of its fourth season on AMC.)

With massive deliveries of advertiser-friendly viewers comes premium unit costs. According to media buyers, the average price of a 30-second spot in Big Bang during the upfront was a cool $326,260, making the show network TV’s most valuable scripted real estate.

“Comedy is a big part of our schedule, and The Big Bang Theory is the biggest comedy force on television,” said Nina Tassler, chairman, CBS Entertainment, by way of announcing the renewal. “This multiyear deal further strengthens our network’s position for future seasons and marks another chapter in the great partnership CBS enjoys with Warner Bros. Television for delivering audiences the best in comedy.”

While Chuck Lorre’s most successful show is locked in for the foreseeable future, negotiations with the Big Bang cast have yet to begin. According to TV Guide’s annual salary survey, leads Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco currently earn around $325,000 per episode, but that figure is expected to soar to as much as $1 million a pop after the dust clears with Warner Bros. TV.

Lorre’s other extant CBS comedies are also expected to be renewed in some way, shape or form. Mike & Molly is pulling its weight in the Monday 9 p.m. slot, and CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves last week gave the thumbs up to the freshman series Mom, which is averaging a 2.1 rating in the Monday 9:30 p.m. time slot (down 32 percent from the 3.1 its predecessor M&M was delivering in the year-ago period). 

As for Two and a Half Men, CBS may consider bringing the show back for a final run of 13 episodes.

Big Bang is likely to debut in the Monday anchor slot for the first six weeks of the 2014-15 season, making way for CBS’ big new acquisition, Thursday Night Football.

Speaking Tuesday at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom conference, Moonves told investors that he expects CBS to have just four new series on its fall prime-time lineup, with plans to launch a pair of freshman comedies and two new dramas. While that may seem like a short order, it’s just one fewer show than CBS premiered this fall.

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