AFC Richmond may have been relegated at the end of season one but the cast, producers and writers of Ted Lasso have scored their own big promotions.
Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the stars — from Ted Lasso himself, Jason Sudeikis, down to the last player on Richmond’s roster — of Apple TV+’s Emmy-nominated comedy recently engaged in a round of contract renegotiations with Ted Lasso producers Warner Bros. Television that gave them all sizable pay increases.
Showrunner Bill Lawrence is also seeking an increase from the five-year, eight-figure overall deal he signed with Warners in late 2018, before Ted Lasso become a Peabody-winning cultural sensation for the studio where his Doozer banner has been based since 2011.
Writers on Ted Lasso, which garnered 20 Emmy nominations including outstanding comedy series and a pair of writing mentions en route to tying Glee as the most-nominated freshman show, also scored significant salary bumps. Included in the writer negotiations are separate deals for Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) and Brett Goldstein (Roy Kent), each of whom have penned multiple episodes of the show and also exec produce.
Ted Lasso is the latest breakout show to renegotiate deals after season two (other recent examples include Stranger Things and This Is Us). While Apple handed out an early third season renewal last October — and ahead of the show’s return to production for its sophomore season — the renegotiations with writers briefly delayed the opening of the season three room. Sources say rich new deals with the all the writers — who were poised to start work in August — were hammered out over the weekend ahead of the new Sept. 13 start date. Sources say the writers room officially began work Sept. 13 on season three. Further delays could have jeopardized Apple’s intention bring Ted Lasso back in summer 2022 after the sophomore season returned July 23 with six times the viewership of its series debut a year ago. (Apple, like other streamers, does not release traditional viewership data.) Production remains scheduled to begin in January.
Sudeikis, sources say, has already closed a deal for season three that will pay him in the vicinity of $1 million an episode. The sum also includes creator fees and compensation for his role as the show’s head writer and exec producer. The deal, which also covers the two extra episodes of the current sophomore season, is up from the $250,000-$300,000 per-episode sum he earned for seasons one and two. That deal was negotiated before Ted Lasso premiered to rave reviews. The series — based on an NBC Sports short from 2013 starring Sudeikis — was developed by the star alongside Lawrence, Hunt and writer Joe Kelly. Ted Lasso currently has a 95 percent and 91 percent rating among critics and viewers, respectively, on RottenTomatoes.com and is a co-production between Warners and Universal TV.
Sources say negotiations have been ongoing for the past month or so with central cast members including Emmy nominees Hannah Waddingham (Rebecca), Goldstein, Juno Temple (Keeley) and Hunt, who all scored raises that take them from the $50,000-$75,000 range they earned per episode for seasons one and two to the $125,000-$150,000 territory. Sources say Waddingham, Temple and Goldstein have already closed rich new deals for season three, joining Sudeikis. Goldstein also negotiated a second payday for his role as writer and exec producer on the series, with Hunt doing the same. (Goldstein detailed how he went from writing on the series to playing Roy Kent during a July interview with TV’s Top 5.) Other actor deals are also expected to close in the coming weeks as Warners and Apple solidify a new licensing deal, with the latter taking on added costs of the show.
As for Lawrence, the prolific writer-producer (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Spin City), is seeking a rich new deal that could admit him into the increasingly crowded nine-figure club other prolific showrunners like Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti and Alex Kurtzman. Lawrence’s last deal with Warners — for whom he previously delivered such short-lived broadcast shows as Undateable, Rush Hour and Whiskey Cavalier — was negotiated before the streaming wars began in earnest as platforms including HBO Max, Apple and Peacock had yet to launch. The eight-figure deal also doesn’t reflect the breakout success of Ted Lasso, which has become Apple’s signature series. Historically, creators could look forward to lucrative back-end deals like syndication and international sales. With streaming having eliminated those revenue streams, Lawrence’s camp, sources say, is looking to update the deal and score a sizable upfront payment while also extending his tenure with the studio. Such an extension would help offset the lost back end of Ted Lasso and better reflect his value to the studio and its corporate sibling streamer, HBO Max. Further helping Lawrence’s case is his ability to juggle multiple projects. Sources say by year’s end, Lawrence could have at least five shows on the air. He already has Clone High and Head of the Class at HBO Max and recently set Bad Monkey starring Vince Vaughan at Apple, with other high-profile shows expected to be announced soon that are also contributing to negotiations for his new pact with Warners.
As the Ted Lasso cast and writers negotiated with the studio, Warners also finds itself looking to talent-friendly Apple to cover the rapidly rising costs of producing the comedy. Linear rights to Ted Lasso — which Warners retained as part of its initial deal with Apple for Ted Lasso — are said to be at the center of the negotiations. Warners, sources say, wants Apple to cover the rising expenses of producing Ted Lasso as part of its cost-plus deal while retaining those linear rights. Apple, sources say, is interested in keeping Ted Lasso exclusively and possibly buying out the linear rights that could see the studio air repeats of the “football is life” favorite on linear networks like TNT, TBS and The CW. Sources say the current deal allows Warners to air the comedy within a few years after the conclusion of season three. Those linear rights would be a boon for Warners and help drive revenue for a show that many say has not been very profitable for the studio despite its status as a cultural phenomenon. (Multiple insiders say Warners could have moved faster to launch merchandising that would have generated additional revenue for the series that they co-own with passive partner Universal TV.) Apple, meanwhile, doesn’t want to see its crown jewel on any other platform besides its own as the streamer, like others, looks to retain its original content on an exclusive basis to help draw and maintain paying subscribers as it builds up an impressive roster of original titles (see The Morning Show, For All Mankind, Dickinson, Mythic Quest). Delaying the linear launch is also on the table as part of the discussions, per sources.
Further complicating negotiations is the uncertain future of Ted Lasso beyond season three. Sudeikis, who has already won a Golden Globe and is the front-runner to score an Emmy win this month for his role as the unabashedly optimistic head coach, has been open about envisioning only a three-season run for Ted Lasso. “It’s called the iMoney truck,” Sudeikis quipped in a June interview with EW when asked about the show’s future. “But the story that’s being told — that three-season arc — is one that I see, know and understood. I’m glad that they are willing to pay for those three seasons. As far as what happens after that, who knows? I don’t know.”
Sources say Lawrence, Warners and Apple all would love for Ted Lasso to continue well beyond a third season and that new deals with actors also include options for subsequent seasons. Ultimately, the future of the show is in up to Sudeikis, a father of two who spends six or seven months out of the year filming the show in London. “You have two companies arguing over a successful show,” notes one insider. “Do you pay a larger premium? Does the show go on longer than three seasons? If not, no. If so, yes. Linear rights are huge; what are linear rights worth for a show that runs 34 episodes?”
Reps for Warners, Apple, Sudeikis and Lawrence, among others, declined comment.