LA Screenings: Nine drops Warner Bros. deal

Australia’s Nine Network has let its output deal with Warner Bros. lapse with local reports suggesting the Australian free-to-air broadcaster will reallocate the cash to sport rights.

BlindspotThe Australian was the first to report Nine’s Warner Bros. deal has ended and TBI has verified that is the case.

The Australian said the output deal cash will be used in part to retain key rugby league rights. The newspaper said that the Nine-Warner Bros. deal was worth an estimated A$100 million (US$78.9 million) a year.

Key series are expected to remain with Nine for the life of their run, but the fact it is no longer under a Warner Bros. output deal means a raft of the studio’s new and library fare is up for grabs in Australia.

Warner Bros. declined to comment but is understood to be confident it can either work with Nine on an a la carte basis, whereby the broadcaster cherry picks the new and catalogue shows it wants, or can sign a new output deal with one of its rivals.

Negotiations with Australian buyers are taking place this week during the LA Screenings, where Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution’s slate includes NBC’s buzzy Blindspot (pictured), CBS’ movie-to-TV project Rush Hour and high-concept Fox drama Lucifer.

The Nine news comes as buyers increasingly question the value of mega-money output deals, which require they take a wide range of product as well as the specific shows they have targeted.

Speaking to TBI at the Screenings this week, one buyer said its studio output deal was “the single biggest problem we have”.

Such proclamations from buyers are not infrequent and suggesting output deals are now less valuable to them is seen by some as a way to drive a better deal.

However, it is indisputable that US cable drama, often distributed outside of the studio system, and international drama from the UK and the likes of Scandinavia, France and Germany now travel more extensively then ever before.

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