'Gilmore Girls': Netflix Revival to Air on The CW

Gilmore Girls A year in the life - Netflix-H 2016
Courtesy of Netflix

Gilmore Girls is returning to The CW.

In a rare streaming-to-broadcast licensing deal, The CW has acquired Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life for a Thanksgiving run. The revival originally bowed on the streamer four years ago and will make its free TV debut on The CW and air over four nights starting Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. The series will also stream for free on the ad-supported CW app and CWTV.com for 30 days following its linear debut.

The news was announced Monday, the same day that the Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel drama celebrated 20 years since it debuted on the former WB Network. The beloved drama from Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino wrapped its original seven-season run on The CW in 2007.

Sources note that the licensing deal was worked out recently and wasn't part of the deal with producers Warner Bros. TV that revived Gilmore Girls for a four-episode miniseries a few years ago. The CW, it's worth noting, is a joint venture between Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios.

This marks the first time that Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will be available anywhere other than Netflix and a rare example of Netflix licensing one of its originals to a linear network. Animated favorite BoJack Horseman was the first Netflix series to be licensed elsewhere in a deal that saw syndication giant Debmar-Mercury and producer Tornante Company sell the show's library rights to ViacomCBS-owned Comedy Central.

Netflix typically does not license its originals — be they programs or movies that are produced in-house or from a third-party seller. The streamer relies on exclusivity to draw paid subscribers to its platform.

Streamers have increasingly sold licensing rights to scripted originals during the pandemic as many linear networks have been searching for "gently used" programming to air as a stopgap until new episodes of current shows are available. The CW, for example, is home to such acquired streaming shows as DC Universe's Swamp Thing and CBS All Access' Tell Me a Story, among others. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is by far the most high-profile of those acquisitions. And while the show will help fill a programming hole during the Thanksgiving holiday, it should also be considered an event that will no doubt renew interest in the show and bolster interest in the original Gilmore Girls library. The latter is, naturally, available on Netflix.

While Netflix does not release traditional viewership data, the Gilmore Girls revival was considered a hit for the streamer, according to a third-party measurement company. The Palladinos, meanwhile, have always left the door open to revisit their fan-favorite show, though the closest official comment on another run came back in 2017 when Netflix boss Ted Sarandos said the streamer was in "very preliminary" talks for another season.

"We hope [there are more installments]. We obviously loved the success of the show, fans loved how well it was done, it delivered what they hoped," he said, adding that "the worst thing is to wait a couple of years for your favorite show to come back and for it to disappoint you, but they sure delivered and people were really excited about more, and we have been talking to them about the possibility of that."