Opinion

Is getting rid of Two Broke Girls worth $86m, Channel Nine?

With the Nine Network paying $86m for Warner Bros to not show certain series, Aaron Ryan asks was it money well spent?

At its annual general meeting earlier this year Nine Entertainment Co announced that the Warner Bros. contract had been renegotiated so the network would not be forced to purchase unprofitable and under-performing series it would then have to air for the duration of each series’ life.aaron-ryan

To make this change, the network will be required to pay $86 million dollars over the next two financial years, on top of payments already made this financial year. Has the network really saved any money amending this contract and are there any major changes to programming that will affect viewers?

It is important to note that Nine ended its contract with Warner Bros. some time ago, meaning this ‘renegotiation’ was for ‘leftover’ series that were either still in production or have episodes still to play out. Nine claims it affects 20 shows, as detailed in its statement below.

Nine has confirmed to me it will keep The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise series for 9Life.

Nine also confirmed that new episodes of The Big Bang Theory will remain on Nine and The Middle will continue on 9GO.New wide nine logo

In shows that have been cancelled, I can confirm that Nine will play out the remaining episodes of Person of Interest, Undateable and Ground Floor.

There are a handful of shows that have been cancelled, yet under this new renegotiation Nine will not air the respective final seasons. These shows include: the final season of Mike and Molly, which Foxtel confirmed will air on its 111 channel in April; The Mysteries of Laura, which will air in 2017 on Universal; Rizzoli and Isles, and Murder in the First.

So, how many more shows still in production did Nine have left under the WB contract that will not continue?

Two Broke Girls: Beyond three unaired episodes that are still to come for the current season, the show will no longer air on Nine.

Mom: The show will no longer air on Nine.

The Last Ship: Will air on FX from March 2017.

Major Crimes: Nine would not confirm whether this series will continue or not.

There are also a very small number of programs that existed under the WB deal that Nine did not screen and were onsold to Foxtel each season, and they include shows such as The Originals and The Vampire Diaries.

So, the bottom line is, if Nine just played out the final season of a number of shows that would have then expired anyway and continued to onsell a number of shows for Foxtel, by early next year Nine would have been left with Two Broke Girls, Mom, Major Crimes and The Last Ship.

Are the Two Broke Girls really worth $86 million to dump? In this case, I think shareholders would be disappointed that so much money was put on the table to renegotiate a contract that was already dead and a major portion of the shows Nine decided to either a) keep anyway or b) were cancelled series that were almost at the end anyway.

From a viewer perspective, it is disappointing that Nine will not play out a small number of shows that have just one season left, but otherwise there will be no significant change, with viewers losing just four shows from the network.two-broke-girls-promo

In reply to my inquiries, a Nine spokesperson refused to divulge the full list of shows affected citing they are “commercial in confidence”. He said:

The deal involves Nine exiting its life-of-series obligations associated with approximately 20 programs that were not performing in an Australian free-to-air context.

“Absent this new arrangement, Nine was obliged to acquire further seasons for as long as they were made in the US and irrespective of the performance of such programs in the Australian market.

“While specifics of the arrangement are commercially sensitive, the agreed value takes into account the likelihood of future seasons as assessed by Nine and the opportunity for re-licencing. The arrangement essentially crystallises the value of the obligation, at a discount to the estimated future cost to Nine under the original contract.

“It removes uncertainty in terms of future value and enables Nine to focus on acquiring the most suitable content to meet the needs of the Australian audience.”

Nine’s future is in Australian content, with 2017 seeing many US shows finish out the WB contract. Under a separate deal, Nine has acquired the US drama Chicago Med and is showing this on Wednesday nights.

These one-off purchases will be the norm moving forward. All in all, Nine will look the same as most of the series in the WB deal were either cancelled, sold to Foxtel previously or, like The Big Bang Theory, will remain.

The only difference, as far as I can establish is that we won’t see Two Broke Girls and Nine won’t see $86 million.

Aaron Ryan writes Mumbrella’s TV Guides and TV Guides Archives

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