To a certain type of TV aficionado, the world can be separated into two groups: Friends fans and Seinfeld fans. For years, Friends has been readily available on Netflix, while Hulu offered Seinfeld. But now, Friends is leaving Netflix in 2020 — and Netflix just acquired Seinfeld global streaming rights starting in 2021. In other words, while pre-2020 allowed Team Friends to stay on Netflix and ignore whatever was going on over at Hulu, post-2020 seems like a great time for Friends fans to join the other side. Unless, of course, they cancel their subscriptions to join HBO Max, which is where Friends is headed.
Netflix seems, in a word, pleased. “Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said. (Try telling Friends fans that!) “It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time.” If you’re wondering why we keep bringing up Friends so much, it’s not (just) because we’re cranky about its pending absence from the streaming world (we’re allergic to the words “HBO Max”). We mention it because Netflix losing both Friends and The Office within a few weeks this summer made it seem like the streaming service was losing its grip on the sitcom market. But the Seinfeld acquisition proves they’re getting back in the game.
Sony Pictures Television owns the rights to Seinfeld, and chairman Mike Hopkins gave this statement on Netflix’s acquisition to the Los Angeles Times: “Seinfeld is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show. Now, 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld remains center stage. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe.”
In the end, Netflix is largely known for its original content these days, not ’90s hits. But with so many new streaming services popping up lately and nabbing fan favorites, we’re quickly slipping into a world where 18 different subscriptions are required for what used to be one unified video library. As long as Netflix can hold onto a significant corner of the market (and allow us to stick with them instead of totally rewiring how and where we stream TV), we’re rooting for them. We’re also buying box sets of Friends and Office DVDs, but, hey — that’s just a good investment.