1:30 pm EDT, January 10, 2018

The odd case of the ‘BoJack Horseman’ syndication rights

BoJack Horseman has an odd opportunity approaching — syndication on cable. Will the Netflix original series be on television soon?

The Netflix original series is currently shopping syndication rights, something that is only possible with a series whose history goes far back enough with the company to allow for such a loophole to exist.

Talks surrounding this deal made me think — where would a series like BoJack fit? Would I prefer to watch it in syndication? And how do current shows in syndication both limit and free my viewing habits?

There are two time slots to consider when thinking about BoJack Horseman. The first, are those early evening hours when the news is dominating basic cable, and Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune wrap up before the 8:00 p.m. primetime shows kickoff. Then there is the aftermath of primetime. The time where the news returns for a brief stint, once programming concludes around 11:00 p.m.

These are the time slots where syndication is king.

I’m guilty of utilizing this time to unwind from the day. My viewing habits tend to land either on Gilmore Girls or Modern Family reruns. But more times than not, I opt for a few hours of The Big Bang Theory.

I have watched the series backwards and forwards, dozens of times. The same goes for Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, Will & Grace, Roseanne, even I Love Lucy, and The Golden Girls. Why? Syndication.

Could a new show, one that viewers currently must choose to seek out, join those ranks? BoJack Horseman might do just that.

The series’ producer Tornante Co. is cited by Variety as one of “the first production companies to work with Netflix on original programming.” As a result of this, the partnership came at a time when Netflix’s “global rights in all-encompassing deals” did not include syndication rights.

This leads to an interesting scenario – a Netflix original series living both on the streaming site and on cable.

bojack netflix season 4

Don’t expect to see other series like Ozark or The Crown on AMC or USA anytime soon. BoJack is an exception, but an interesting case study nonetheless. Will the series find new life in syndication?

Debmar-Mercury’s co-presidents, Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, note in the same Variety piece that, “In an era when addictive, laugh-out-loud comedies are in short supply, BoJack Horseman delivers what cable networks have been missing.” The company is currently in charge of shopping the rights.

While, I don’t necessarily agree that comedies are in short supply, the darkness of the comedy BoJack offers is only matched by the likes of Archer and You’re the Worst.

Those series have found success on FX and FXX. But BoJack might prove to be a tougher sell. The first few episodes of season one present a hurdle, but a rewarding one in retrospect. If I caught season 1, episode 2 on at 10:00 p.m. one night while flipping through stations, would it serve as a gateway into exploring other episodes?

Another element of the syndication/streaming element BoJack presents is the availability to jump from television over the streaming service. I am hard pressed to believe that most people who would catch the series on television would not have access to a Netflix account. (If not their own, a friend’s cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s password is likely buried in a text somewhere.)

Could the syndication drive viewers to jump from cable over to the streaming service?

While the streaming service may want to pay close attention to those numbers, I am looking forward to another scenario this presents. Netflix is great for many things, but primarily the platform offers the ability to binge series.

I binge-watched seasons 1-3 of BoJack the weekend they were released. But the fourth season of BoJack Horseman arrived when I was on vacation this year. I took about a week to watch the latest installment. And I’m glad I did. The season was good, but certainly not as great as its predecessors.

Bojack netflix syndication

While watching I couldn’t help but compare episodes to ones I held in high esteem from season one, two and many from three. After my watch though, did I go back and watched those episodes? No.

Why? A series I claim to be one of my favorites, exists in that spot with only a single viewing of each episode. Big Bang Theory doesn’t even crack my top-ten and it is one of my most-watched. Could syndication allow for more people to break free from their repetition and welcome a new series into their lives?

There is a difference between a beloved series making its way to Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Will & Grace’s long-awaited streaming deal opened the series up to new and old viewers who didn’t catch the series in live.

I know it’s not hard to log into Netflix and select a show I want to watch. But there are still times where active viewing seems overwhelming.

Indecision is fatal ? (By @adamtots)

A post shared by Buzzfeed Comics (@comics) on

At the moment, there are three series that are over, series I want to catch up on, and a few upcoming series I should start.

With so many choices and series’ vying for our attention, sometimes, it’s nice to have the decisions made for you.

So, if I see “Fish Out of Water” or “Let’s Find Out” while flipping through the stations after primetime ends, would I sacrifice a millionth rewatch of The Big Bang Theory to watch? Yes.

Stay tuned to this deal and find out. For now, I’ll likely forgo clicking the Netflix app on my television and continue on to TBS.

BoJack Horseman seasons 1-4 are currently available on Netflix.

Which other Netflix series would you like to see in syndication?

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