Netflix paid $100 million to keep Friends streaming for another year


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I’m sure any of you who read Twitter saw the buzz over the weekend about the TV show Friends leaving Netflix. The show had been scheduled to be pulled from the streaming lineup on the first of the year. People did not take it well. But, all those broken hears can be pasted back together because Friends is staying! And it only took $100M to make it happen.

The One Where Netflix Paid the Big Bucks.

Over the weekend, Friends fans collectively lost it when they noticed an expiration date of Jan. 1, 2019 on the show’s landing page on Netflix.

But on Monday, the streaming giant confirmed that the beloved NBC sitcom would remain available in the U.S. throughout 2019 — and according to the New York Times, the extra year came with a hefty price tag.

The company will reportedly pay around $100 million to continue licensing the program from its owner, WarnerMedia. Netflix, which acquired all 236 episodes on Jan. 1, 2015, had previously paid $30 million a year to stream the show.

According to the Times, the deal to keep Friends on Netflix was indeed due to expire by the end of the year, but both Netflix and AT&T, WarnerMedia’s parent company, had been negotiating for at least a few months to extend it.

AT&T, meanwhile, plans to begin a streaming service of its own by the end of 2019. AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said during an investor conference on Tuesday that the new agreement between the two is nonexclusive, meaning Friends is likely to appear on AT&T’s coming service by 2020, the Times reported.

AT&T and Netflix are reportedly negotiating rates for after 2019 that would be significantly lower than $100 million, since the show would no longer stream exclusively on Netflix. However, it’s also possible that Friends could leave Netflix after next year, as AT&T will likely have to keep some of its content off other services to attract new streaming customers.

[From People]

I’ve gone on the record that I am a full-fledged Friends fan. I know so many episodes by heart that if the Netflix/AT&T thing falls through, Facetime me and I’ll act them out for you (my delivery of “PIVOT!” is the stuff of legend). So I’m thrilled it will be staying. However, I cannot believe that price tag. I’m also confused by the fact that they announced the show’s end date if they’d been in negotiations for months to extend it. Either Netflix was trying to gauge interest before they signed off on that amount of money or WarnerMedia was trying to drive up the price. Either way, Friends is here to stay. That may not mean much to some, but I leaned heavily on the show during a time when I didn’t have many real-life friends. That and I couldn’t imagine going through a holiday season without our annual viewing of The One With the Holiday Armadillo.

Even if you don’t like the show itself, the bloopers are a riot.

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Photo credit: WENN

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65 Responses to “Netflix paid $100 million to keep Friends streaming for another year”

  1. Maya says:

    Sorry I love this show but there are lots of other current shows out there where those money could have been spent.

  2. runcmc says:

    Good! Friends is such a good and inoffensive show (as in, it’s not a lot of noise and drama- I’m aware some aspects haven’t aged well!) I am willing to bet there are thousands or more people who binge it a few times a year, kind of like The Office. I certainly do. And I put it on when I want some noise in the background too. Friends is still funny!

    • Thirsty Hirsty says:

      I have a show for that, too! CBC’s ‘HEARTLAND’ is the one I put on when I want some noise in the background. ‘Hecate’, put it on when they went through a tough time with no friends. I went through a time with no family, and the cast on HEARTLAND became my family for awhile. I still put it on when I’m feeling far from home. It’s awesome, isn’t it, how ‘entertainment’ can sometimes become so much more…
      This article says it will stream in the US. Will it also continue in Canada? I’m thinking I maybe ought to binge over the holidays!!!

    • sparker says:

      Inoffensive? You’re basically celebrating the fact that people of colour don’t exist in the Friends universe. Each time i heard that song as a kid i knew they didn’t mean they’d be there for me… just you.

    • Snowflake says:

      I watch it the last half hour before I go to bed. Its a light hearted, don’t have to do a lot of thinking, wont get me wound up or so into it that I can’t go to sleep.

    • NewKay says:

      As a POC- I can’t watch friends anymore. I completely find it offensive. Not only was the concept ripped off from Living Single, the absence of diversity is sickening. It’s how I feel about Sex and the City. I loved that show back in the day- but now my eyes are open m and I can’t watch it.

      • Foxtrot says:

        I agree. It does seem very dated today, just like SATC. Aside, how much credit does Jen Aniston deserve for its ongoing popularity? I think she’s the only one out of the cast still working on big budgets today. And they all got along and banded together to get equal pay for all six individuals (apparently Monica / CC’s character was supposed to be the main one at first). In contrast, SJP seemed to have thrown anyone who she perceived to have threatened her dominance under the bus.

      • horseandhound says:

        and where was diversity in living single?

  3. Becks1 says:

    I love Friends as much as any person who came of age in the late 90s/early 2000s – one of the strongest memories of my life is the night of my last exam in college, which was also the night of the friends series finale. My friends and I all sat around and drank champagne and cried and laughed and it just seemed like the perfect end to an era.

    That said……omg 100 million!!!! that’s insane.

  4. Brunswickstoval says:

    I loved Friends when it was released but I don’t think it has aged well. I tried to watch it again recently but couldn’t enjoy it.

    • Deanna says:

      I agree! I used to like Friends, but a lot of the jokes fall flat, if not outright offensive (e.g. fat Monica). Comparatively, Seinfeld and Fraiser still have rewatch value for me, even though some of the jokes have aged in them too.

      • elimaeby says:

        Came here to say the same. Seinfeld has a far better re-watch value than Friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      • Darla says:

        I’m the opposite. I loved Seinfeld during its original run and now when I see an episode I often cringe. Friends still makes me laugh but mostly it’s just like a familiar crowd. Like, well, friends. Fraiser I have to say is still hilarious. The only one of the three that I can still laugh out loud over.

      • AMAyson1977 says:

        Frasier is my forever-show for when I am folding laundry, lol. I will watch it other times, but I always put it on when I’m folding clothes. I LOVED Friends when it was in it’s original run, and I will watch it when there is nothing else on, but the older I get, the more they annoy me. They are kind of terrible a lot of the time and they do stupid things that completely aggravate adult me. And don’t get me started on the horrible final season; I watched it the first time around in utter disbelief, and I refuse to watch it ever again. For me, the show ends with Monica and Chandler’s wedding (which I also disagree with…#TeamRichard 4EVA!!!)

      • Foxtrot says:

        Frasier is probably the best show out of them all. Very well written and subtly politically sophisticated (the “working class” dad vs his sons). I agree it’s the only one that’s aged well.

    • Becks1 says:

      One of the things I keep thinking when I watch it is – how do they afford these lifestyles?? I know its touched on some in the first few seasons (the one with five steaks and an eggplant notably) but then it kind of goes away after that as a topic. chandler supports himself and Joey, Ross makes enough as a college professor (Who apparently never has to travel or do research) to live by himself in a super nice apartment, etc.

      Plus many of the jokes have NOT aged well.

    • Mia4s says:

      It really hasn’t aged well. The level of homophobic humour in 1990’s entertainment was…wow. And their NYC was about as diverse as Lena Dunham’s. But I get why people still have warm feelings for it. I still love many classic movies, but I recognize their problems.

      That price actually doesn’t surprise me. Disney+ is coming, their first true threat. It’s war.

    • Jess says:

      Agreed. I’m a few years younger than the cast of Friends so loved it at the time. My daughter watched all of it on Netflix this year and I cringe now at a lot of the jokes. Still love Richard though (with mustache).

      • Nancy says:

        I hated the Richard/Monica relationship. Supposedly, his wife, so he claimed was the only women he ever slept with. So after the divorce, he falls in love with his best friend’s daughter, same age as his daughter and sleeps with her. Yeah that was love Richard. In a later season, she makes out with his son. Cancelled Monica and Richard after season 1. Liked all the others, even though Phoebe was hard to take sometimes and Joey is dumb as a rock. Why do I like this show again!! I will blame my daughter who watches it on TBS and Netflix. Silly girl.

    • Aang says:

      Missed it in the 90’s. Watched for first time a few years ago with my teen daughter. Not funny and really misogynistic and homophobic. Seinfeld aged better. At least it’s funny and we are supposed to know the main characters are all terrible people.

    • Erinn says:

      I only rewatch for Chanandler Bong. Honestly, I just love Matthew Perry. But it’s the show I put on when I want some background noise when I’d rather be watching something else but have to wait for my husband to come home to watch together.

      • Nikki says:

        Erinn, you mean MISS Chanandler Bong!!!

      • Nancy says:

        It’s ironic, as funny as he was, Matthew Perry suffered from addiction throughout the show. Some years, he was heavy, others extremely thin. I feel bad for him. Off point, I thought Monica was cool first time around when I was young. Watching her now at 39, I find her insufferable. The cleanliness issues…getting crummies from her cookies and literally putting her head under a maid’s crotch, bc she thought she stole her jeans….and bra. Yeah, I liked Friends, but it could have ended after five seasons.

      • Darla says:

        That’s true, I used to like Monica a lot more than i do now. She is insufferable, you’re right. Here’s something almost no one agrees with me move about – Phoebe is the worst friend. Ross is the best one.

    • Anitas says:

      I felt exactly the same. I was a fan in the 90s but when I rewatched it recently most of the time it was cringey or just not funny at all. I wonder if today’s teenagers/people in early 20s would find it entertaining.

  5. Lucy says:

    I am currently watching the show for the very first time (yes). Now I won’t have to rush through it!!

  6. Rhys says:

    Out of curiosity – will actors and writers of the show make any money from this deal?

    • Felicia says:

      The actors will. Despite some people believing that the deal they cut (2% each of gross profits I believe it was) ended after 10 years, no it did not. Friends reportedly generates 1 billion a year. That’s a cool 20 million each. They are all sitting very prettily.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yeah I remember watching (don’t laugh) the fabulous life of Brad and Jen* on VH1 back in the day and it touched on her royalties from Friends. this had to be before the show ended but I think it said she got 2 million a year from the RERUNS alone (obviously making the million/episode at the end, and I imagine that 2 million from reruns was a very low estimate). And after it ended the reruns picked up tremendously so I can believe that they are all making significant cash from it even 15 years after it ended.

        *as a side note I loved this show and there was an episode of Harry and William that I keep trying to find again lol.

  7. Nancy says:

    I watch Friends a lot, it’s my mac & cheese of old shows. I turn into Chandler Bing when I’m nervous, the joking at inappropriate moments. Could I be any happier.

    • Esmom says:

      Lol. I have a soft spot for the show but I don’t go out of my way to watch it. I think Nick at Night shows it because I sometimes watch it when I wait for my teenagers to get home.

      Lol also at imagining Hecate perform the scenes. “Pivot” is a go-to anytime we need to move furniture.

      • Nancy says:

        That was a classic. Pivot, pivot…lol. Ross wasn’t popular, but I think he’s funny, the white teeth, leather pants, just goofy! My oldest daughter got me watching again. She loves Rachel, or should I say, Rachel’s hair, no matter which style she wore it in. I’m usually not a big fan of sitcoms, but this year hasn’t been normal for me, a lot of time in the house. Have a good day Esmom 😊

  8. Beth says:

    The TV is full of silly reality shows, and there are only a few good current sitcoms to watch, so I still watch shows from the 80′s and 90′s. Friends was never my favorite, but it’s better than Dancing with the Stars or Real House Wives

  9. Backwards says:

    Friends is terrible. Frasier FTW.

  10. Lila says:

    FYI If you have cable TBS cable channel runs them mostly every day, on Tuesdays and Saturdays are the marathon days for that show. I have about 50 episodes recorded. TBS is the rerun channel with Seinfeld, 2 broke girls, Everybody Loves Raymond and Big Bang Theory,

  11. Louise177 says:

    When I hear these deals I wonder if it’s worth it. When a show is first available on a streaming service I understand the price but after a couple of years I wonder who’s watching. These shows are on reruns so much I don’t feel the need to watch on a streaming service. I usually use it for newer shows that i didn’t get a chance to watch.

    • Esmom says:

      I wonder the same thing but they must have some data that indicates it is worth it. My son was devastated when Netflix dropped Lost but clearly there was no outcry to keep it on like Friends, boo for him.

      • Nancy says:

        The fans and sometimes stars of the show have to really protest loudly if a show gets pulled. Lucifer, I think was on ABC is an awful show, but my husband likes it. The fans and the actor who plays Lucifer went on a crusade to get it back on the air. Network didn’t want it, but Netflix did pick it up. So now the hubby is happy and I will go elsewhere! Lost was a good show btw.

    • Jenna says:

      I don’t remember where I read it, but I’m sure I heard that Friends is one of the most heavily streamed shows on Netflix, far surpassing the far majority of their original content. And while $100 million sounds like a lot, it’s probably a lot cheaper than making a new show from scratch that far less people might watch…

  12. cari says:

    maybe this is why my netflix fee has increased $4 a month :/

  13. Scal says:

    Netflix is getting ready to lose all of the Disney content so they have to hold onto what they can

  14. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    “…but I leaned heavily on the show during a time when I didn’t have many real-life friends.” Dang, Hecate! That hit me real hard!

    Similarly, I can remember a lot of lonely nights living in Chicago, far away from family, (and in the worst part of winter,) binging on Parenthood and it gave me a lot of warmth and much-needed family vibes.

    I’m glad they are keeping Friends, it’s a modern classic that’s always fun to watch when in the mood. Just wish they would bring back The Wonder Years!

  15. tealily says:

    Friends specifically isn’t my jam (it’s funny enough, but I don’t rewatch in perpetuity), but I appreciate the gesture from Netflix that they’re still willing to invest some money on back catalogues of shows. I worry that they’ll drop the shows I watch (still pissed they took away my Murder She Wrote — how much can that possibly cost?) in favor of dumping all their money into new programming.

    I pay for so many streaming services at this point, I’m always on the edge of dropping my Netflix. If they ditch the last couple of things I keep rewatching on there, I’m gone. I hope this means they’re wise to that!

  16. sparker says:

    This show is a perfect example of how the establishment unwittingly continues to perpetuate their socially inoffensive version of white liberal fragility and privilege. Big Bang Theory can suck it too. Same crap, different decade.

    • NewKay says:

      @sparker exactly. Big Bang Theory, New Girl, that apartment 99 show. And the person with the white fragility who mentioned the 3 Black shows on in the 90s- REALLY?? Do you want to keep a running list of all the ‘mainstream’ shows vs the ones with Black characters and see who comes out on top?

  17. IMUCU says:

    Sounds more like it should be Golden Girls money! ;-)

  18. Kathryn says:

    I used to really like Friends, and then started to drop off, instead watching it very occasionally if I was bored and couldn’t find anything else on tv. The older I get the more I realize how badly it has aged, and I can’t even sit through a single episode. I think the nostalgia gives it such a deep place in people’s hearts and that’s wonderful, but critical appreciation for it has definitely waned pretty drastically in the last decade.

  19. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    Never seen it and could think of half a dozen shows better worth 100 mil. I didn’t even know it existed until it was almost over because my grandmother and I were busy watching all the episodes of I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and the like on Nick at Nite together.

  20. horseandhound says:

    best show ever. if I had to watch only one show for the rest of my life it’d be friends. great humor, great cast, lovable, smart.

  21. Samantha says:

    Friends will always have a place in my heart. It has made me feel “warm & fuzzy” through various times in life. It also taught me things at the time, like TALK to your friend if they hurt you. Yeah, not everything was 100% woke but it WAS a different time and I do think they were trying to be progressive ( Carol & Susan, for example). The shortcomings weren’t intentional IMO, as opposed to shows like New Girl or 2 and a half men which are purposefully misogynistic. Anyway, glad it’s staying on!

  22. Meg says:

    Egad. That’s some expensive schlock.

  23. Meg says:

    The residuals these actors must get-

  24. Daniela says:

    I always assumed people who loved Friends had never lived in New York City. NYC is 35% non-hispanic white. 35%. 1/3. I didn’t get to watch a lot of TV as a kid, but watching Friends (or SATC or Girls) as someone from NYC is like startling. It is unnerving to see my home scrubbed of all the people who make it my home. Yah, if you grew up somewhere where it was 80% white, maybe seeing the show feels normal and like regular TV to you. But if you grew up where the show is set, it is very, very strange. What regular person in NYC has only white friends?

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