You can thank Netflix for the enduring popularity of sitcoms such as The Office and Friends, at least according to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
Soon, Friends and The Office will be leaving the streaming platform, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who before them. While Netflix first popularized streaming and binge-watching, new streaming options are stealing away prized Netflix possessions. Every month, more Netflix staples leave for a competitor. And as popular TV shows and movies leave Netflix, customers are leaving, too. After raising prices at the beginning of the year, Netflix lost 130,000 U.S. subscribers in the second quarter of 2019. With Disney+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max on the streaming horizon, Netflix is facing bigger problems than the loss of a few beloved sitcoms. Unsurprisingly, Netflix’s share prices are on a downward slide.
Un the midst of all this bad news, Netflix sent Sarandos to a live interview with Katie Couric at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. When Couric asked about the loss of the shows, Sarandos deflected the question, saying Netflix is excited to create new original content that customers can’t find anywhere else. He also told Couric that Netflix is responsible for introducing Friends and The Office to Generation Z viewers in the first place. Without Netflix, Sarandos believes these shows wouldn’t still be so popular:
“[Part] of the enduring success of the shows is they’ve been available on Netflix in a way that people can watch them and ingrain them in their lives. Part of it also is: they sit down they push play and there it is. ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’ found them, too, on Netflix. Remember, ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’ have been widely syndicated for years, still are…A lot of that phenomenon has been because of Netflix.”
Sarandos also downplayed the effect losing the shows will have on Netflix’s future, despite one report suggesting The Office and Friends leaving could really hurt subscription numbers. While other streaming services carve up the digital landscape, Netflix is heavily investing in its expanding lineup of original content. Still, Netflix customers can still catch these sitcoms for a few more months. Starting in 2020, Friends will depart Netflix for the new WarnerMedia streaming platform HBO Max, while The Office will move to NBCUniversal’s Peacock service starting in 2021. Sitcom lovers can take solace in the fact that Netflix has acquired the exclusive rights to all 180 episodes of Seinfeld, a deal that cost a reported $500 million.
Once upon a time, you could turn to Netflix to find almost any TV series or popular movie. But in recent years, virtually every major entertainment conglomerate has launched, or will be launching soon, their own video streaming service. Soon, all of your favorite content will be split between services including Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Peacock, Paramount Network, Quibi, AMC On Demand, HBO Max, and CBS All Access – to name a few contenders for the Netflix streaming throne. Instead of a one-stop destination for all of their favorite TV shows and movies, customers now have to invest in a patchwork of streaming services. As the streaming wars rage on, customers’ bank accounts are taking heavy fire. Netflix customers can at least enjoy their favorite episodes of The Office, for a little while longer.