For long-running series, time is usually not on the side of the cast when they have to negotiate new deals because ratings inevitably erode as shows get older. But that will not be the case with CBS‘ The Big Bang Theory, which, in Season 7, is still at its peak. Things are quiet and there has been no movement yet on the actors, but I hear producing studio Warner Bros TV will likely go out to the three leads — Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco – after the first of the year. The contracts of the trio, along with original cast members Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, are up at the end of this season, as is CBS’ deal for the show with WBTV. I hear the studio and the network have started discussions about a new license fee deal. Like the last one, I hear the renewal will likely be for three seasons, which means the studio and the network would likely try to lock in Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Helberg and Nayyar for the same term. (Big Bang‘s other regulars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, recently closed new deals.) Like the last time, in 2010, Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco are expected to go first, followed by Helberg and Nayyar. (The former three are repped by the same law firm, Hansem, Jacobson, Teller, and are expected to negotiate together.)
There is no doubt about it — both the license fee and cast deals will be huge. After all, Big Bang Theory is the biggest show on broadcast television. The comedy is running neck and neck with NBC’s Sunday Night Football for the highest-rated program this season adults 25-54, averaging a 8.6 in the most current ratings to SNF’s 8.8. The way Big Bang has separated itself from the pack is staggering. Among adults 18-49, Big Bang averages a 6.8, with the next three series — NBC’s Blacklist (5.0), ABC’s Modern Family (5.0) and NBC’s The Voice (4.9) — almost two rating points behind.
In May 2010, a day after CBS announced Big Bang‘s move to Thursday 8 PM from its protected Monday 9:30 PM berth, I wrote a column, Is ‘Big Bang Theory’ The Next ‘Friends’? At the time, I felt the multi-camera comedy about a group of friends held the promise to become as successful as its NBC predecessor in the Thursday 8 PM slot. Big Bang has more than delivered on that promise. It is even more dominant than Friends was in its heyday, positioning itself to contend for the type of blockbuster deals Friends – produced by the same studio, WBTV — landed in its last major renegotiation for Season 9. At the time, WBTV broke a record for the highest license fee scored by a half-hour series when NBC agreed to pay $7 million an episode.