Friends fans got a scare earlier this week when news seemingly broke that the long-running sitcom was going to be leaving Netflix on January 1. Good news came a bit later that day when Netflix announced that it was keeping Friend-ly throughout the new year. Now, some details about how the streaming situation has been resolved for the time being have been revealed. Here's what's happening.
When news of Friends' departure from Netflix broke, a running theory was that the streaming giant had only worked out a four-year deal to keep the mega-popular show in its library, and AT&T's upcoming streaming service WarnerMedia would gain the license once Netflix's expired in early 2019. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has spoken out to clarify where the streamers stand on Friends.
According to Randall Stephenson, the newly extended license for Friends is not exclusive. The Warner Bros show can be hosted on multiple platforms moving forward, which includes Netflix and the upcoming WarnerMedia service, which is slated for launch in late 2019. Stephenson went on to say this at the UBS media conference (via Deadline):
So, Friends fans don't have to worry about binge-watching all ten seasons of Friends by January 1 for one last hurrah! It is worth noting that no details were released about how much longer the license for Friends on Netflix was extended, so it's possible that this issue will come up once again in the not-terribly-distant future. A big question is if the plan was always to secure a deal for Friends to stay on Netflix or if it was worked out after the outcry over Friends' upcoming removal.
Given that Netflix didn't exactly announce the end of Friends in its library, I could see it going either way. The streaming service undoubtedly wouldn't want to falsely claim that Friends would 100% be around in 2019 if execs weren't 100% sure that a deal extension could be worked out. It's entirely possible that Netflix simply didn't count on anybody noticing that Friends was slated to leave its library before the details could be hammered out.
For now, you can keep Friends comfortably in your queue for whenever you feel like watching, whether it's an episode or two or a binge-watch. The odds are pretty good that we're never going to get a Friends revival with the original cast all on board, so reliving their glory days on Netflix is the way to go if you're in the mood for some Friends actions.