The One Where Netflix Paid the Big Bucks.
Over the weekend, Friends fans collectively lost it when they noticed an expiration date of Jan. 1, 2019 on the show’s landing page on Netflix.
But on Monday, the streaming giant confirmed that the beloved NBC sitcom would remain available in the U.S. throughout 2019 — and according to the New York Times, the extra year came with a hefty price tag.
The company will reportedly pay around $100 million to continue licensing the program from its owner, WarnerMedia. Netflix, which acquired all 236 episodes on Jan. 1, 2015, had previously paid $30 million a year to stream the show.
PEOPLE has reached out to Netflix and WarnerMedia for comment.
According to the Times, the deal to keep Friends on Netflix was indeed due to expire by the end of the year, but both Netflix and AT&T, WarnerMedia’s parent company, had been negotiating for at least a few months to extend it.
AT&T, meanwhile, plans to begin a streaming service of its own by the end of 2019. AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said during an investor conference on Tuesday that the new agreement between the two is nonexclusive, meaning Friends is likely to appear on AT&T’s coming service by 2020, the Times reported.
AT&T and Netflix are reportedly negotiating rates for after 2019 that would be significantly lower than $100 million, since the show would no longer stream exclusively on Netflix. However, it’s also possible that Friends could leave Netflix after next year, as AT&T will likely have to keep some of its content off other services to attract new streaming customers.
Friends ran for 10 seasons from 1994-2004 and continues to be devoured by fans, both in syndication and on Netflix.
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