Netflix had reportedly agreed to pay around $100 million to continue licensing the program through 2019

By Michele Corriston
July 09, 2019 02:13 PM
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You won’t be able to watch all 10 seasons of Friends on Netflix for much longer.

WarnerMedia announced its new streaming platform, HBO Max, on Tuesday — and the iconic NBC sitcom is among its slate of offerings.

According to the company, HBO Max will launch in Spring 2020 and feature “exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of Friends — one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming.” Other beloved, binge-worthy titles coming to the new service include The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars, plus new original series like an animated Gremlins reboot and a thriller called The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco. WarnerMedia also announced production deals with Reese Witherspoon and Greg Berlanti.

As Chandler Bing would say, the news couldn’t be any less surprising. Last December, fans revolted when they noticed an expiration date of Jan. 1, 2019, on the show’s landing page on Netflix. Days later, it was reported that the streaming giant agreed to pay around $100 million to continue licensing the program through 2019 from WarnerMedia. (Netflix, which acquired all 236 episodes on Jan. 1, 2015, had previously paid $30 million a year to stream the show.)

Courtesy Everett Collection

But TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the show was bound to move to WarnerMedia’s new platform eventually.

“I think you can expect the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on our new service. Pulling it away [from Netflix]? It’s certainly something we’re willing to do,” he said. “I think for the most part, sharing destination assets like that is not a good model to share — my belief is that they should be exclusive.”

AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, had said that the new agreement between the two was nonexclusive, meaning Friends could appear on the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service by 2020. But the “exclusive” terminology in WarnerMedia’s announcement suggests it’ll leave Netflix within the next year.

Netflix confirmed the news, tweeting, “The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye. We’re sorry to see Friends go to Warner’s streaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in The US). Thanks for the memories, gang.”

Friends — starring Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry as a group of young pals in New York City — ran for 10 seasons from 1994-2004.