After losing Friends and The Office, yada, yada, yada…Netflix grabs Seinfeld

Joe Supan
JS
Joe Supan
Sep 17, 2019

Netflix has been hemorrhaging beloved TV shows for the past few months, but this week, it finally got a win.

As part of a deal with Sony, the streaming giant acquired the global streaming rights to all 180 episodes of Seinfeld. Terms of the deal were not made public, but The Los Angeles Times reports that Netflix paid “far more than the $500 million NBCUniversal paid for The Office, and the $425 million WarnerMedia shelled out for Friends.”

Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement via The Los Angeles Times. “It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time.”

That said, things won’t be changing anytime soon. Hulu currently holds the rights to Seinfeld in a six-year, $130 million deal that expires in 2021. Amazon held the rights to the show in most foreign countries, all of which will go to Netflix in this deal.

While it’s a higher price tag than NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia paid to swipe binge hall-of-famers Friends and The Office, Netflix was clearly desperate for a win. According to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this year, Friends and The Office were the top two shows on Netflix by minutes streamed. Netflix also saw its first subscriber loss since 2011 this summer, shedding 130,000 U.S. subscribers in just three months, even though it predicted a rise of 300,000.

As successful as its original content has been, Netflix needed some streaming comfort food to fill those voids. With Seinfeld, it gets a fresh new nostalgia-catalogue for its subscribers.

The deal also doubles as a blow to one of Netflix’s upstart competitors, Peacock. Seinfeld is one of NBC’s most popular shows of all time, and the company surely would have loved to have it for the debut of its new streaming service.

While we won’t see Seinfeld on Netflix until 2021, this deal does tell us something right now: Netflix is more shook than it would like us to believe about losing so many subscribers and classic shows. And while it’s been telling us that original content is the future, it might not be ready to wean itself off licensed content just yet.

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