Netflix to Pay AT&T a Reported $100M to Keep Streaming ‘Friends’ Exclusively

Top SVOD service will keep exclusive access through 2019, at which WarnerMedia will have it, too
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Netflix has reached a deal to keep exclusively streaming classic sitcom Friends for another year.

Friends-Netflix-WarnerMedia

The deal with AT&T’s recently acquired and rebranded WarnerMedia division (formerly Time Warner Inc.) means that Netflix will pay a reported $100 million to remain the exclusive U.S. streaming home for Friends in 2019. (The Wall Street Journal reported the renewal deal, while The New York Times reported the figure.)

Netflix has paid WarnerMedia around $30 million a season, or $500,000 an episode, for the show since 2014. It remains a popular draw on the platform. The streaming platform’s users erupted in Twitter fury this past week when Netflix announced that the show would be leaving the service at the end of the year.

AT&T reportedly has the option after 2019 to also stream Friends on its direct-to-consumer OTT platform, set to launch at the end of next year.

Revealing details about this platform last week, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said platforms like Netflix will see their libraries of licensed content grow “thinner” when companies like WarnerMedia and Disney launch their own OTT platforms and start keeping more of their content exclusive to their own platforms.

Contradicting Stankey, however, was his boss, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who told WSJ’s Tech D.Live conference last month that the broader the distribution for shows like Friends, the better.

“When you have premium content, distribution is everything,” he said. “And broad and wide distribution is something I feel very strongly about. Do I care if Friends is shown on Netflix and on a Warner Media SVOD service? Probably not.”

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