The Los Angeles Times reported that all 180 episodes of the Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld-created sitcom will become available on Netflix when the five-year global streaming rights deal takes effect in 2021. “Seinfeld” might be known as the show about nothing, but Netflix’s investment in the series was anything but: Although specific financials were not disclosed, anonymous sources told the Los Angeles Times that Netflix spent “far more” than the $500 million than NBCUniversal paid for streaming rights to “The Office” and the $425 million that WarnerMedia spent for “Friends.” The deal was struck with Sony Pictures Television, which controls the sitcom’s distribution.
All 180 episodes of the Emmy-Award winning Seinfeld are coming to Netflix — worldwide! — starting in 2021 pic.twitter.com/tLvcCKH4vl
— Netflix US (@netflix) September 16, 2019
Hulu currently has the domestic streaming rights to “Seinfeld,” while Amazon has the rights to stream the series in most foreign countries. Although Seinfeld’s current series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” is streamed on Netflix, sources told the Los Angeles Times that that did not factor into the streaming platform acquiring the rights to “Seinfeld.”
Netflix’s “Seinfeld” pickup marks a reversal of fortunes for the streaming service, which will soon lose the streaming rights to the aforementioned “Friends” and “The Office.” The former will find a new home on the upcoming HBO Max streaming service, while the latter will relocate to NBCUniversal’s still-unnamed streaming service.
Netflix brushed off the loss of those sitcoms during its middling Q2 earnings call, arguing that their departures would allow the company to invest more in original content. That seemed like damage control at the time and more so now, given that Netflix reportedly spent a significant amount of money to secure the global streaming rights to “Seinfeld.”
Regardless, the “Seinfeld” pickup is a boon for the streaming service; the sitcom’s enormous popularity hasn’t waned since its season finale first aired in 1998. Like “Friends” and “The Office,” “Seinfeld” continues to enjoy large viewership numbers and has the potential to drive new subscribers to whatever platform has the rights to stream the show. More broadly, Netflix’s pickup is part of the streaming industry’s overall war for content exclusivity. As more streaming services enter the market, existing platforms need to ensure they have an ongoing supply of exclusive, high-quality content to stand out from competitors.
Outside deals such as the “Seinfeld” pickup, Netflix is continuing to ink big-budget deals with powerhouse creators such as Ryan Murphy and “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to create original content for the platform.