Valuing a sitcom that hasn’t aired on TV for 14 years is never going to be easy. Yes, we’re talking about Friends here. While many feel that Netflix is going to take it away, one should look at how much they’re ready to pay for it. The answer to this, by now, is $100 million: which is what Netflix is going to pay AT&T for the right to stream Friends next year.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal a few days back, AT&T’s WarnerMedia which currently owns Friends has now extended a deal that provides Netflix with the exclusive streaming rights to all 10 seasons of the series through 2019. After that, WarnerMedia is likely to gain access to the show for its own streaming service platform which will launch sometime next year.
As reported by The New York Times, Netflix is paying around $100 million to stream the show next year. However, Netflix isn’t the only streaming giant ready to spend so much of money on the hit sitcom. Other bidders included the likes of Hulu, and Apple, which is likely to to launch its own streaming service by next year.
Hulu is most likely to end up solely owned by Disney/Fox once the two companies complete their merger. At the very least, Hulu was ready to pay well beyond $30 million a year: something that Netflix was already paying for it.
But the real issue isn’t what the show is worth for a streaming service next year, but rather in the years following that. WarnerMedia would probably like to include Friends in its yet-to-launch service although it hasn’t decided whether it will want the exclusive rights to the show, or whether it will want to share it.
Friends is a valuable asset, so it’s safe to assume that WarnerMedia might want it for themselves instead of someone else… unless WarnerMedia ends up failing. So here’s what WarnerMedia has ended up with: After 2019, WarnerMedia will be able to pull Friends from Netflix and keep it as an exclusive.
Or perhaps it may let Netflix stream the show at a discount of about 25%, which means that they may get another $75 million a year from Netflix and still use the show as a key part of its own streaming service.
People may also see this happening again when Comcast’s NBCU thinks about what has to be done with The Office, which currently streams on Netflix but will most likely want to keep for its own, “yet-to-be-announced” streaming service that will likely launch once it sells its stake in Hulu.
According to the report, The Office generates more viewing hours than anything else on Netflix which means that Pam and Jim may get more money than Rachel and Ross.