While Netflix will feel the loss of The Office and Friends when the beloved sitcoms leave the streaming service in the near future, they’re softening the blow with their latest major license. Netflix announced today that all 180 episodes of Seinfeld are coming to the streamer worldwide starting in 2021.
Hulu currently holds the domestic streaming rights to Seinfeld, for which it pays $150 million a year. That five-year deal expires in 2021, which is when Netflix’s own five-year deal will begin. While specific terms of the contract weren’t’ disclosed, Netflix is believed to have paid far more than the $500 million NBCUniversal paid for The Office and the $425 million that WarnerMedia paid for Friends.
Netflix won the Seinfeld license over other bidders like Hulu, Amazon, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, and Viacom (which owns CBS All Access), per the Los Angeles Times. The streaming giant is said to have been aggressive in landing Seinfeld, and it’s not hard to see why. The Office is the most-watched show on all of Netflix, and it’s departing for NBCUniversal’s streaming service in 2020. Friends, meanwhile, has also been one of the best-performing shows on all of Netflix and is similarly leaving to anchor WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.
HBO Max is currently in the process of securing The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men in a mega-deal, so Seinfeld was the other major sitcom out there with streaming rights coming up for grabs. And while I’m dubious that Seinfeld has the same millennial appeal that boosted The Office and Friends into the zeitgeist anew, I’ll be interested to see how Netflix positions the iconic sitcom as a must-watch when it no doubt begins marketing its arrival in 2021.