NBCUniversal Acquires Exclusive Rights to 'Harry Potter' Film Franchise

NBCUniversal has acquired exclusive U.S. broadcast and cable rights to Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter film franchise and digital assets—known collectively as J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World—starting in 2018 and running through April 2025.

The Walt Disney Co. currently owns the rights to the Potter franchise and wanted to hold on to them, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported this story. The deal could be worth as much as $250 million to Warner Bros. based in part on the performance of Fantastic Beasts, which opens in November, the paper said

Starting July 1, 2018, all eight films in the Harry Potter franchise, including the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will start airing on USA and Syfy. The deal also gives NBCU the right to air the movies across any of NBCU’s TV networks. Beyond the movies, NBCU also has rights to air the extended director’s cuts of the first two films—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—as well as the 2011 When Harry Left Hogwarts featurette and 3D versions of the last two films in the series, which concluded the story of Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts and his fight against the Dark Lord.

The deal also includes a component allowing Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan and Warner Bros. to work together on opportunities, such as fan events, movie screenings and promotions. The partners also expect to collaborate on joint digital initiatives to support the franchise, including collaborating with Rowling’s website Pottermore.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.