Big Bang Theory, last year’s highest-rated scripted television show, will enter its seventh season next week. It also enters a long eight months of behind-the-scenes negotiations to renew contracts smoothly and quietly before next year.
Chuck Lorre’s comedy will need to renew license fees as its contract expires at the end of this season. Similarly, the three leads, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, and Kaley Cuoco (Leonard, Sheldon, and Penny, respectively) plan to collectively negotiate for a tremendous salary bump. The three stand to make $350,000 an episode for the 2013-14 season. According to a TV Guide Magazine report, the trio may seek deals that pay as much as $1 million per episode for the widely syndicated show. To put that in perspective, by the end of its 10-year run, the cast of Friends each took in $1 million per episode, along with syndication royalties. The NBC sitcom took in an average of over 20 million viewers in its sixth season compared to Big Bang Theory‘s average of 18.68 million in 2012-13. In a digital age when many people DVR episodes to watch later or illegally stream online, the numbers are pretty impressive when compared to what is considered one of the biggest sitcoms of all time.
CBS obviously values its number-one scripted program. Deadline reported this past week that the network doubled the salaries of recurring actresses Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) to roughly $60,000 per episode. Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) will also reportedly renegotiate their contracts together.
When NBC tried to decide if it was worth it to pay the million dollar price tags to continue Friends, it left viewers uncertain and the situation was very close to becoming a total mess. Hopefully, the Eye Network execs will settle everything cleanly by next fall. Maybe their wallets will loosen up after some wins at this Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards, where the show is nominated for three trophies: Jim Parsons for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Mayim Bialik for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and the coveted Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy. Bob Newhart won an Emmy last week for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy, his first.