The Big Bang Theory Joins Friends at HBO Max, Which Has Landed Exclusive Streaming Rights

All 12 seasons will come to WarnerMedia’s streaming service in 2020

big bang theory cast
This is the first time The Big Bang Theory, which ran for 12 seasons, will be available to stream in its entirety.
Warner Bros. Productions

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service, has secured the rights to exclusively stream the hit comedy The Big Bang Theory on the platform, the company said Tuesday.

All 278 episodes of the series, which premiered on CBS in 2007 and ran for 12 seasons, will be available on the platform when it premieres next spring. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition of the sitcom, which premiered in 2007 and became an unlikely blockbuster hit, marks another major library acquisition for HBO Max. In June, the company announced it had snapped up the streaming rights to the popular NBC sitcom Friends, which when it aired on Netflix was the second most-watched program on the platform.

For HBO Max, bringing The Big Bang Theory to the platform leverages its immense popularity, which with its huge ratings remained a vestige of appointment television as other series suffered from the increased shift to video-on-demand viewing. The series, which was the longest running multi-camera comedy series in U.S. television history, won a number of accolades and awards, and in its last season was the No. 1 show on television in the 18-49 demographic.

“Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like The Big Bang Theory,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia’s entertainment and direct-to-consumer businesses, in a statement. “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.”

In addition to the HBO Max deal, The Big Bang Theory will continue airing on TBS, one of WarnerMedia’s cable properties, through 2028. Reruns of the program, which have been airing on TBS for years, continue to draw a considerable audience on the cable channel. Warner Bros. Television, which is part of WarnerMedia, produces the series, meaning that the show will remain in the WarnerMedia family.

“It’s not every day you get to extend the run of a cultural phenomenon that reaches nearly 35 million viewers on TBS alone every month,” said Kevin Reilly, HBO Max’s chief content officer and the president of TBS, TNT and truTV, in a statement. “Through HBO Max and TBS, fans will have access to this beloved comedy for generations to come.”

HBO Max isn’t the only service trying to get its hands on popular library programming. Just yesterday, Netflix announced it has acquired the exclusive streaming rights for the comedy series Seinfeld; NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service, which will be called Peacock, has secured streaming right to The Office for its service come 2021. The Office, like Friends, had previously been on Netflix; The Office had been the most-popular program on the service, with Friends right behind it, according to Nielsen.

Most major companies entering the streaming space are eager to get their hands on popular programming that has a proven audience on traditional television. The deals are good both for streaming services that are interested in padding their content libraries with beloved shows, and for the show creators and stars themselves, who reap additional rewards from the deals.

This is the first time The Big Bang Theory will be available to stream in its entirety, other than current-season episodes that had been offered through CBS. Warner Bros. Television’s original syndication deal with TBS precluded The Big Bang Theory from appearing on any streaming services.

But as the show ended in May, and with HBO Max looming, it was widely expected that the series would be offered on the new streaming service. Peter Roth, the president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Television group, told Adweek earlier this year that the series would have “tremendous value in subscription video on demand. … You can be sure that when we go out with it, we’ll exploit it to its fullest.”

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