According to the latest development, Netflix Inc. has scored a key victory in the battle for redistributing classic sitcoms. The streaming service had announced about winning the rights to all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld,” which is expected to launch globally in 2021. Surprisingly enough, Sony Pictures Television, the current distributor of the show, still holds its deal with the Hulu streaming service.
The bidding war for the show follows battles over the rights to The Office and Friends, the two prominent shows that Netflix currently misses out on. As a result, Seinfeld’s redistribution deal proves that Netflix is on a spree to acquire popular library content, which is similar to Warner Media’s shift in focus to promote their own streaming services. Ted Sarandos, Netflix CCO (Chief Content Officer) had also added that Seinfeld’s television comedy is measured against all the other comedy sitcoms. Surprisingly enough, the shares of the streaming giant had turned positive briefly after the deal was announced, which also proves how important having hit shows is to investors of streaming services.
While it’s been more than two decades since the final episode of “Seinfeld,” the show has maintained its popularity thanks in part to a long run in syndication on TBS. Reruns of TV sitcoms are still generating large sums of money as younger generations discover them on streaming services like Netflix.
Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal recently paid $500 million over five years for the rights to “The Office,” while WarnerMedia is paying $425 million over five years to stream “Friends” on its upcoming streaming service, HBO Max.
Netflix paid “far more” for the rights to stream Seinfeld, according to the Los Angeles Times. Moreover, this deal is unique in comparison to “The Office” or “Friends” as it gives Netflix global rights over its streaming. Other programs still up for grabs include “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” but WarnerMedia’s HBO Max may have the inside track to nab those shows. Both of those sitcoms are distributed by WarnerMedia. Hulu had a $150 million deal to stream “Seinfeld,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. It expires in 2021.