Calm Down, Friends Isn’t Leaving Netflix
I feel like we can all agree this was Netflix‘s fault, right? After a January 1 expiration date appeared on Friends‘ Netflix page over the weekend, fans went into full panic mode on social media. The streaming juggernaut confirmed on Tuesday, however, that the beloved sitcom would not be leaving their streaming services in 2019.
The controversy was made all the more confusing by WarnerMedia’s planned online video service. Warner Brothers owns Friends and will most likely want the most popular show on television to be a prominent draw for their new streaming site, but reports from the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City have stated that the show’s contract was re-signed on a non-exclusive basis. Netflix shelled out $118 million for the rights to all 230 episodes of the NBC sitcom in 2014, leading to a resurgence of popularity for the already iconic series.
The expiration date supposedly appeared because the show’s current contract is coming to an end, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, but Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos has directly, verbally stated that the show’s departure is just a rumor.
The Holiday Armadillo has granted your wish: “Friends” will still be there for you in the US throughout 2019 pic.twitter.com/Yd0VqRzk3r
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 3, 2018
Fan pandamonium came despite reports as early as October that Friends might be leaving the popular streaming platform, with a Change.org petition to keep the show on Netflix gaining nearly 79,000 signatures in two days (and counting, despite the confirmation that Friends would not be leaving the site). The show is still the third most popular sitcom in America, alongside Brookyln Nine-Nine and The Big Bang Theory, and a 2016 Vulture article titled “Is Friends Still the Most Popular Show on TV?” detailed fans getting engaged on the Central Perk set on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, emotionally heightened fan experiences, and the show’s post-9/11 popularity spike among people who were too young to watch when the show started.
The WarnerMedia streaming service that might, eventually, take the ever-popular show from Netflix (unless the non-exclusive contract is to be taken at face value) will feature three tiers at different price points. One package would only include movies, another with original programming and box office hits, and a final tier that adds extra content to the former two tiers. Until then, fans can rest assured that Friends will remain on Netflix and can stop flooding Twitter with Friends GIFs that we’ve all seen before. The expiration date has even been taken off of the show’s Netflix page, so this can all go back to seeming like a bad dream.
Warner Bros. isn’t the only media conglomerate to plan their own streaming site to rival Netflix — three Marvel series have been canceled by Netflix in preparation for the Disney+ streaming launch, which will have sole use of many Marvel properties. Now that we have our beloved sitcom about six white people back, maybe we could try another petition for Luke Cage.