'Seinfeld' Heads to Viacom in Cable Syndication Deal

Seinfeld cast - H 2016

Sony TV has closed its second library deal for Seinfeld in a week.

Days after securing more than $500 million from Netflix for exclusive global streaming rights to the comedy created by and starring Jerry Seinfeld, the studio behind the series has sold domestic cable rights to Viacom.

Under the new pact, Viacom's cable portfolio — including Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land — will begin airing Seinfeld's nine-season, 180-episode library in October 2021, when the comedy will move its syndication home in the U.S. from WarnerMedia-owned Turner brands TNT and TBS.

As part of the agreement, Viacom will also offer episodes on-demand via its authenticated websites, apps and other platforms.

Financial terms of the cable syndication deal were not immediately available. Sources note it's a multiyear deal, though just how many years is being kept under wraps. (It's worth noting that Netflix will begin streaming Seinfeld after Hulu's pact expires in 2021.)

"Seinfeld airing on Comedy Central and the Viacom networks brings together the greatest comedy of all time, with the best brands in cable," John Weiser, president of first run television for Sony Pictures Television, said Saturday in a statement. "This was a tremendous team effort and we are delighted to be working with the first-class executives at Viacom who are experts in programming and promotion. For a show about nothing, this is really something!"

The new Seinfeld pact arrives days after WarnerMedia extended its syndication rights to The Big Bang Theory as part of what sources say is a record-setting deal that also included the nerdy comedy's first-ever streaming pact. The series from Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady will stream on WarnerMedia's upcoming platform HBO Max and be available when the service launches next year.

While the market for streaming rights to libraries of beloved comedies has taken off, it's unclear how the syndication market is being impacted amid an era of cord-cutting and an explosion in the number of streaming platforms. Cable networks tend to attract older viewers, while younger audiences tend to favor digital platforms like Netflix and Hulu.

In the coming months, streamers from media titans including Disney (Disney+), Comcast (Peacock) and WarnerMedia (HBO Max), as well as Apple (Apple TV+), will launch as the media giants look to better position themselves for the future — and compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Many of those same companies are paying crazy amounts of money to take their shows back from the likes of Netflix and use them to attract subscribers to their new platforms. 

One of the reasons Sony was able to cash in on the demand for library titles is the fact that the independent studio does not have a streaming platform of its own. Viacom, meanwhile, has ad-supported platform Pluto TV and, following its deal with CBS, will be a co-owner of CBS All Access.