The Big Bang Theory feels like the most unstoppable comedy on TV nowadays. In fact, thanks to syndication, it's not hard to find an episode airing at some point each and every night. Unfortunately, the syndication that's always good for a nightly fix of Leonard, Sheldon, and Penny means that Big Bang could come to an end after Season 10. As it turns out, the cost may just be too high for CBS to keep paying for more.
The show has actually made a lot of money for CBS thanks to its syndication deals with other networks. In the years since The Big Bang Theory syndication began back in 2011, the reruns have generated an extra $1 billion of revenue. The problem is that revenue growth may soon be capped.
Stations that purchased the rights to air episodes in syndication have deals that limit their length of financial commitment so they won't be obligated to continue paying more and more the longer that the series continues on primetime. Variety reports that the limit is at eight seasons for the non-CBS broadcast networks and ten seasons for cable station TBS. Networks may not be willing to shell out more money for new seasons when they already have access to more than 211 episodes.
Considering the price of producing a season of The Big Bang Theory, CBS may really struggle to pay the bill without the extra revenue from increasing syndication. A single episode of Big Bang costs approximately $9 million nowadays. With stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, and Kaley Cuoco pulling in a whopping $1 million per episode and even supporting players Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar earning approximately $900,000 per episode, the cast salaries alone could be enough to discourage CBS from wanting to continue the series. The actors' contracts will be up as of the end of Season 10; renegotiations may mean that CBS will face demands from the cast for even higher pay.
Warner Bros. TV runs production for The Big Bang Theory, but CBS actually foots the bill. The contract between the two companies will also be up after Season 10, and there is always the possibility nowadays that Warner Bros. might be able to shop the show to a different network. There's no saying that any other network would be any more willing to pay more than $9 million per episode for a season of 20+ episodes. Ratings drops for Season 10 aren't totally encouraging either.
All of this said, The Big Bang Theory fans shouldn't start panicking just yet. Big names from the show have come out and expressed an eagerness to continue. Jim Parsons has said that he can't imagine which cast member would actually want to leave the series, and Kaley Cuoco has revealed that the general consensus among the actors is that they'd like to stay on for a while longer. CBS President Glenn Geller has been confident about Big Bang continuing beyond Season 10, and showrunner Steve Molaro isn't planning for a Season 10 series finale.
Tune in to CBS on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET to see what The Big Bang Theory has to offer in Season 10, and check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else you can catch on the small screen.