Netflix’s un-friending has left the popular ’90s-era sitcom in streaming limbo: “Friends” will not be available to stream in the United States until the spring 2020 launch of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which secured exclusive domestic streaming rights to all 236 episodes under a five-year deal estimated to be worth $425 million. Netflix still has “Friends” in territories outside the U.S.
HBO Max is currently slated to debut sometime in May 2020, priced at $14.99 monthly (the same price as HBO Now) for a huge bucket of streaming content including “Friends,” HBO programming, licensed TV shows and movies, and a range of originals.
Until then, the only (legal) way to watch the show in the U.S. is by purchasing the show on DVD or through digital retailers like Amazon, Apple iTunes and Google Play, or via reruns on cable TV — where episodes of “Friends” are airing on TBS and Nickelodeon. Currently, the “Friends” 32-disc complete series collection is the No. 3 best-seller on Amazon (priced at $123.77) among comedies in the DVD category (after the final season of “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Office” complete collection).
“The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye,” Netflix tweeted back in July. “We’re sorry to see ‘Friends’ go to Warner’s steaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in the US). Thanks for the memories, gang.”
Meanwhile, “The Office,” another top performer on Netflix, also will be departing the streamer’s U.S. catalog at the end of 2020 to be available exclusively on NBCUniversal’s Peacock starting in 2021.
On Jan. 1, Netflix subscribers left stranded in mid-binge on “Friends” vented their woes on social media:
“Friends” originally aired on NBC from 1994-2004. The show follows the lives of a close-knit group of pals in New York City: siblings Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), along with Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) and Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc). The show was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, who executive produced with Kevin Bright through Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.