Comedy Central UK Renews ‘Friends’ Deal Through 2019

Friends (Gallery) [FT]

Comedy Central UK is extending their relationship with Warner Bros.

The VIMN backed broadcaster has renewed their licensing deal with the studio’s global sales arm Warner Bros. International Television Distribution for Friends. The lucrative new deal for the show runs for four years and ensures that the iconic sitcom will remain on British screens until at least 2019.

Comedy Central UK and WBITD have a long-running relationship, dating back to the acquisition of Two And A Half Men more than a decade ago. There had been some question as to whether or not the channel would continue their deal with the studio for Friends, as the prior agreement, which saw the show move from E4 to Comedy Central UK in 2011, was set to expire this October. This new deal, which is said to have had a “high price tag”, grants Comedy Central UK exclusive rights for a period of four years.

Despite the fact that Friends ended its run in 2004 and is available on a range of home entertainment formats, it remains a very popular title, both in the UK and on the international market (buoyed somewhat by constant rumours of a reunion). Per Comedy Central UK, the series attracts more than 5.9 million viewers per month and viewership has surged 11% year-to-year (compared to 2014). Additionally, some 32.1 million viewers have watched Friends on Comedy Central UK since its debut in 2011.

FriendsFest“For 20 years Friends has been one of the most popular and enduring shows in the UK. This great show continues to run contrary to all the usual trends for long running sitcoms by not only maintaining a loyal audience but attracting new fans, some of whom were not even alive when it was originally telecast”, said Jeffrey Schlesinger, President of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution. “The performance and renewal on Comedy Central reinforces that Friends continues to be a culturally relevant program making it one of the few reliable hit shows that crosses generational lines and still attracts a large and diverse audience on linear television.”

Alongside the renewal of the licensing deal, Comedy Central UK has also announced plans for FriendsFest, taking place between September 16th and September 20th, which will see a full scale replica of Monica’s apartment constructed at The Boiler House on Brick Lane, London. An exhibition of original props and memorabilia will also feature at Comedy Central’s FriendsFest and fans will be able to enjoy a coffee at the Central Perk inspired café, have their pictures taken on the unmistakable orange sofa or by a replica of the iconic fountain.

“Friends has become synonymous with Comedy Central in the minds of fans and so I’m thrilled we can continue to deliver them their favourite show”, commented Jill Offman, Managing Director of Comedy Central UK & Senior Vice-President of Comedy, International. “We are also investing in the brand off-air and can’t wait to host FriendsFest, a week long interactive experience in central London this September.”