“Friends” will be there for NBC, but it will cost the network nearly $4 million per episode, sources reported Thursday.
The network confirmed it has negotiated a deal with Warner Bros. TV to secure broadcast rights to the show through season No. 6, or 1999-2000. The current contract would have run out at the end of this coming season.
Neither NBC nor WBTV was talking about details of the deal, which sources say is one of the most expensive in history. The ensemble sitcom is routinely one of TV’s highest-rated and is pivotal to NBC’s aggressive campaign to drive as much comedy programming as possible into its prime-time lineup.
According to sources, WBTV is getting between $3 million and $4 million per episode to tack two more years onto its “Friends” contract.
WBTV already had secured the “Friends” cast through a sixth season. In that highly public process, the actors negotiated collectively and sought $100,000 per episode apiece. The studio in return offered each actor $80,000 apiece and locked them in for an additional, or sixth, season.
Meanwhile, creator-producers Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright and David Crane are said to be on board for the show’s six-year duration via their lucrative deals with WBTV and NBC.
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