Netflix nabs global rights to Seinfeld in response to Friends fears
Staff Reporter | On 17, Sep 2019
Netflix has nabbed the global rights to Seinfeld in a move that appears to be a response to growing fears about Friends leaving the streaming service.
The ultimate anti-sitcom, Seinfeld was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld for NBC back in 1989. The show stars Seinfeld as a fictionalised version of himself, following his day-to-day life alongside best friend George Costanza (Jason Alexander), former girlfriend Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and neighbour Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards).
“Seinfeld is perfect for a world as warped as ours,” we wrote in our look back at the series. “With people getting worse and worse, Seinfeld was the first TV show to dive deep into how wrong it is to be so bad, and then make those who comment on this fact just as bad, if not worse.
All 180 episodes of the Emmy-Award winning Seinfeld are coming to Netflix — worldwide! — starting in 2021 pic.twitter.com/tLvcCKH4vl
— Netflix US (@netflix) September 16, 2019
Netflix has inked a deal that will bring all 180 episodes of the Emmy-Award winning sitcom to its platform worldwide from 2021. The deal is a notable one, after the streaming giant has had to suffer the loss of one of its most-watched titles: the classic sitcom Friends.
Netflix paid up to $100 million to Warner Bros. to keep the show in its US library for 2019, but the series will move to Warner’s new rival subscription platform, HBO Max, when it launches in 2020. WarnerMedia is thought to have paid around $85 million per year for five years to license the show, outbidding Netflix.
At the same time, NBC is also taking back the US remake of The Office from Netflix so it can stream it on its own upcoming platform – a snatch-back that again was reported to cost around $100 million per year for five years.
In the UK, however, such rights and restrictions are less clear, as Warner has not confirmed plans to launch its service in the UK as of yet – HBO content is currently licensed exclusively to Sky – and Friends has remained available on Netflix UK regardless of the Stateside negotiations. And while Netflix has made a big deal of landing Seinfeld this week, the whole sitcom is already included Amazon Prime for British viewers – or at least, will be until potentially 2021, when Netflix nabs the rights for itself.
At a time when VOD services are racing to commission new content to woo subscribers, the deal-making and attention surrounding older shows only reinforces the power that familiar favourites can have among audiences. There’s probably a sitcom in that.