LOS GATOS, Calif. >> Move aside, “Friends” and “The Office.” Netflix now has a new gem — a show about nothing.
The company announced today it would start streaming all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld” in 2021, gaining a hugely popular addition to its library as the battle for viewers heats up.
Netflix Inc., which pioneered the binge-watching culture of streaming, was dealt a double blow this summer when it lost “The Office” and “Friends,” two of its most popular shows, as their respective owners pulled them to add to their own streaming services.
“The Office” will leave at the end of 2020 to join NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, and “Friends” will leave at the beginning of 2020 to join the upcoming HBO Max service.
It’s a battle not likely to wane as the streaming TV space grows more crowded. Netflix has created significant momentum with its original shows, but new competitors are constantly popping up, including streaming arrivals from Apple and Disney.
Still, Netflix has a head start in the online space, with its deep library of past and new shows. It struck the five-year deal with Sony Pictures Television for the global streaming rights to “Seinfeld,” the Emmy-winning television comedy which aired its final episode in 1998. Terms were not released.
The Los Angeles Times reported Netflix paid well above the speculated $500 million NBCUniversal paid to retake “The Office,” and the reported $130 million Hulu parent Walt Disney Co. paid for “Seinfeld.” Both of those deals are for U.S. streaming only — Netflix has bought the global rights to show “Seinfeld.”
“Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.
Netflix noted it is still focused on producing its own shows — but it can’t ignore the demand for rewatching old hits. The company spent $12 billion on original and non-original programming last year.
Jerry Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and his standup special “Jerry Before Seinfeld” are already distributed by Netflix.