September 17, 2019 / 12:47 PM / 3 months ago

Bazinga! HBO Max wins U.S. streaming rights for 'The Big Bang Theory'

(Reuters) - HBO Max, the upcoming streaming service from AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia, has secured exclusive five-year streaming rights in the United States to all 12 seasons of comedy hit “The Big Bang Theory”.

FILE PHOTO - Actors Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco participate in the cement handprints ceremony for the cast of the television comedy "The Big Bang Theory" at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Ranked as the No. 1 comedy on U.S. television for the past seven years, the show has garnered an audience of some 20 million people.

The rights for the show cost HBO Max between $500 million and $600 million, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

All 279 episodes will be available on HBO Max when it launches in the spring of 2020, WarnerMedia said in a statement.

Winning rights to hit shows has become expensive in a crowded streaming industry dominated by Netflix Inc, Hulu and Amazon.com’s Prime Video. Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc have also announced their own streaming services.

Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal said on Tuesday it would name its upcoming streaming service “Peacock” and offer a broad slate of original content, including “Dr Death” starring Emmy and Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin.

Peacock will also offer classic sitcoms “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” and is scheduled to be launched in 2020, NBCUniversal said. The company owns traditional television network NBC, which features a peacock in its logo.

Netflix Inc, poised to lose “The Office” to Peacock in 2021, said on Monday it had landed the global streaming rights for classic TV sitcom “Seinfeld.”

“The Office” was the most-watched show on Netflix in the United States, followed by “Friends”, when measured by minutes streamed, according to Nielsen data for 2018.

HBO Max, which is expecting a slate of 10,000 hours of premium content at launch, got here the rights to stream U.S. reruns of "Friends" from 2020 in July.

Television rights for “The Big Bang Theory” will remain with cable television channel TBS till 2028, WarnerMedia said on Tuesday.

The show about four brilliant but socially inept scientists that made geeks and comic book nerds pop culture cool, began in 2007 and went on to win 10 Emmy awards, four of them for Jim Parsons as quirky theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper.

Over the years, the series featured cameos by celebrities including British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “Star Trek” actors William Shatner and George Takei, and Marvel comics legend Stan Lee.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru, Ken Li in New York; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Shinjini Ganguli

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