NBCUniversal Inks Mega Deal for Broadcast, Cable Rights to 'Harry Potter' Universe

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Still - H 2015
Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Still - H 2015

Included in the multi-unit, multiyear pack are the forthcoming 'Fantastic Beasts' films from J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter is heading to TV.

NBCUniversal has struck an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution for U.S. broadcast and cable rights to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise. The pact, which is set to begin July 1, 2018, includes all eight Harry Potter films, which will become available on USA, Syfy and other NBCUniversal networks. Additionally, the deal gives NBCU exclusive cable rights to the new Fantastic Beasts films, which will roll out with the first of the franchise in November.

The wide-ranging partnership also is expected to incorporate content and events from the Universal theme parks, where Rowling’s fare has proved a major draw in both Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood as well as in Japan. All three theme-park attractions are said to be drawing record crowds. Among the potential collaborations as part of the latest venture: fan events and movie screenings tied to both film franchises.

Included in the NBCU deal, which covers on-air and digital rights through April 2025, are plans to air such things as extended director’s cut versions of the Harry Potter films as well as 3D versions of the movies and the 2011 featurette When Harry Left Hogwarts. If all goes as planned, there also will be joint digital initiatives to support the franchise via Rowling’s Pottermore, which hosts articles and her original writing.

The news comes as Rowling's universe continues to strike a chord with fans around the world. A new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two, opened this summer to stellar reviews and quickly sold out, and the corresponding script sold 2 million copies in just two days. The Making of Harry Potter is generating big business online, and there was significant attention paid to the dating of the second film in the Fantastic Beast franchise.

“J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has captured the imagination of fans of all ages, from all walks of life, all over the world … and I’m definitely one of them,” NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer noted Monday in a statement announcing the news. “I’m thrilled that our networks will be the home for this brilliant storyteller’s magical creations for years to come.”

Though Hammer's networks have increasingly relied on original content, much of which they own, in recent years, a franchise as popular and wide-ranging as Harry Potter offers another potential lure for a wide range of viewers, particularly those all important younger ones. The fact that there are opportunities across the NBCU portfolio, from the networks to the parks division, makes the partnership that much more appealing. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to bring one of the most successful and enduring global franchises to the networks of NBCUniversal," said Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution president Jeffrey R. Schlesinger. "We feel this is a perfect new home for the Harry Potter films and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts films. Having all of these films in one place builds upon the existing relationship we already have with NBCUniversal and J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and creates many exciting new opportunities across multiple platforms for both our companies and the fans of this franchise.”