Netflix has reportedly paid an astonishing amount of money to keep 'Friends' on the streaming service
The internet lost its collective mind earlier this week when everyone realised that the sitcom Friends was leaving Netflix. Despite being decades old now and finishing years back, the show still has a large following - with plenty of people eager to sit and binge through a load of episodes on a lazy Sunday or throw one on in the evening. But for a little while, it looked like that opportunity was going to leave.
Netflix acquired the rights to show it back in 2015, but eagle-eyed fans noticed that the show had an expiration date under its 'details' page. Seeing that they had less than a month to watch their favourite show, people got pretty miffed about the whole thing.
However, it was later revealed that the show actually wasn't on the way out at all. First, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos told investors during a conference that the show's departure was just a rumour, then they announced it to stop Twitter fans from causing a riot in their mentions.
“The only reason I have an account with Netflix is to rewatch Friends,” Hayley Kiyoko wrote on Twitter. “Why @netflix are you hurting us” - to which the official Netflix US account responded: “I would never hurt you, Hayley.”
Their announcement that the show was sticking on the streaming service went down a treat.
However, while it's been stated that the expiration date was just a glitch, it looks like Friends really was set to disappear from Netflix for a while. Two anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the deal made between Netflix and WarnerMedia (the company that owns Friends), disclosed the details that weren't authorised to be shared with the public.
Apparently, the deal was due to expire at the end of 2018, but negotiations have been going on for months to extend it. It may have been the backlash online, but it looks like Netflix were backed into a corner - paying a steep sum for the privilege of hosting the 90s show: a reported $100 million to license it.
This is a big jump from the $30 million a year that Netflix had previously paid to license the show for streaming from WarnerMedia. Netflix is doing very well in the market, considering they now have 57 million customers in the United States and 130 million worldwide, but even for them, this must've been a shock to the budget.
What complicated the matters further was AT&T's plan to begin their own streaming service at the end of 2019. AT&T acquired Time Warner for a staggering $85.4 billion, which gave them access to HBO, CNN, Warner Bros, and WarnerMedia - which means incredibly popular shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory.
So, while Friends is safe on Netflix for now - there's always the chance that this year-long deal runs out and AT&T takes their toys and goes home.