Law & Order overlord Dick Wolf has dun-done a massive new deal that will keep him at NBC and Universal Television through 2025. Beyond ensuring another massive cash infusion for the veteran producer — one almost surely measured in the hundreds of millions — the agreement includes three-season renewals for Law & Order: SVU and the Windy City procedural trinity of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med, as well as provisions guaranteeing “multiple” new series will be produced under the Wolf Entertainment banner.
Wolf has been based at Universal for 36 years, so there was little doubt the studio and its network sibling would figure out a way to keep the producer and his franchises. In an age when established properties with loyal audiences have become more valuable than ever to linear networks struggling to recruit viewers to new shows, Wolf controls four of NBC’s longest-running dramas, with the Chicago shows all averaging 11 million or more viewers each. Even SVU, now in its 21st season and scheduled in a tough time slot behind NBC’s low-rated comedy lineup, has held up well: Its 1.5 rating among adults under 50 this season puts it among the 30 biggest scripted shows on network TV. NBC’s drama bench will be well stocked for years to come: The network recently green-lit three more seasons of medical drama New Amsterdam, and soap opera This Is Us is renewed through the 2021–22 season
Almost as important for Universal is Wolf Entertainment’s deep back catalogue of episodes, both of the four series still in production as well as the original Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The shows remain extremely lucrative in streaming and will be part of the core offering for Peacock, the streaming platform launching later this year through Universal sibling NBCUniversal. Earlier this year, Peacock struck a deal for nonexclusive rights to most episodes of the aforementioned six shows, while Hulu continues to pay a healthy sum for rights to SVU. One still unknown component of the deal is whether this new agreement will finally allow the full catalogue of the original-recipe L&O to stream. The Peacock pact revealed last month will only allow for “select” seasons of the show to stream.
Wolf, taking a break from counting his profits and dreaming up his next big drama franchise, issued a statement expressing his happiness that Universal will continue to be his home for another half-decade. “We are now supercharged to expand our business on new platforms, both domestically and internationally, while continuing to produce our current and future series for broadcasting and streaming networks,” he said.