Forget Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?, the internet’s newest craze if Where in the Worlds is Friends Streaming? Because, apparently, it’s not where we thought. Back in December, I reported on the Netflix payout to extend its Friends deal with the gasp-inducing price tag of $100M. Now, just eight months later, I am reporting that HBO has landed the exclusive streaming deal for Friends to the tune of $425M or $85M a year for five years. WarnerMedia will launch HBO Max in 2020. Not only is this where we will find our Friends, but also Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Pretty Little Liars, Batwoman and the Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, as well as the whole library of HBO series and movies.
It’s official: Friends is moving from Netflix to WarnerMedia’s streaming service, now officially called HBO Max.
HBO Max will also be the new streaming home for all fare from The CW (which was previously housed at Netflix), as well as original feature films from prolific producer Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon. HBO Max is set to launch in spring 2020 and will debut with 10,000 hours of premium content. Sources say WarnerMedia paid $85 million per year for five years ($425 million total) to land Friends for its own service, outbidding Netflix for the ensemble comedy starring Jennifer Aniston.
HBO Max will also be the exclusive streaming home for all episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as Pretty Little Liars. Those will join all HBO current series and library content including Game of Thrones and The CW originals starting with Batwoman and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene. All of those series, as well as Friends, are produced by Warner Bros. TV. The CW’s streaming deal with Netflix expired in May. Current CW series already streaming on Netflix (like Riverdale and The Flash) will continue to do so until they wrap their runs. (To be clear, Batwoman and Katy Keene will not be available on HBO Max until 30 days prior to the next seasons; Netflix landed current seasons eight days after a finale aired.)
The Friends move from Netflix was expected after the streaming giant paid producers Warners $80 million to $100 million to continue to have the former NBC hit for all of 2019. The show will move to HBO Max when that deal expires at the start of 2020. WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks president Reilly strongly indicated back in February that Friends would be pulled from Netflix and moved to the streaming platform when he noted that “it’s not a good model to share.”
HBO Max will also feature library content from WarnerMedia outlets, including features from Warner Bros, New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and more. HBO series set to stream on the new service include the upcoming entries Watchmen, The Outsider (from Stephen King), J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele’s Lovecraft Country, Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, David Simon’s The Plot Against America and veteran offerings like Issa Rae’s Insecure.
[From The Hollywood Reporter]
It took me a few reads of this article to sort this deal out and even now, I’m not sure I fully grasp it. So the $100M deal Netflix had for Friends was solely for 2019. I guess I assumed $100M would buy them a little more than that. As you know I love Friends but these numbers are absurd amounts of cash for any show. Losing Friends isn’t the only hit Netflix has taken, they were outbid on The Office rights as well. The Office and Friends were the number one and two streamed shows respectfully. Youch. They are taking it gracefully, though. On Tuesday, they tweeted their goodbye:
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 ☕
— Netflix US (@netflix) July 9, 2019
As for The Office, NBCUniversal won that round for $100M-per-year for five years. No wonder no one is doing any original stuff, they make too much just replaying the old stuff. My head is starting to hurt trying to figure out all the new streaming options. I have no idea which ones to choose. I have HBOGo, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, I also relied on the stations for their online content, but those are moving behind paywalls now and so far, I’m refusing to pay. And then there’s Apple’s streaming with the Jennifer Aniston/Reese Witherspoon show I’m looking forward to. Fortunately, it looks like I don’t have to worry about all this for a few more months and by then, I’m sure someone will have done a side-by-side comparison to inform what the hell I should watch.
— Lovely Séries (@LovelySeriies) July 7, 2019
Photo credit: WENN Photos, Twitter and Getty Images