With Friends leaving Netflix, will the comedy remain as popular?

1999 Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, Lisa Kudrow, And David Schwimmer Star In The Latest Season Of "Friends." (Photo By Getty Images)
1999 Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, Lisa Kudrow, And David Schwimmer Star In The Latest Season Of "Friends." (Photo By Getty Images) /

Beginning in 2020, Friends is leaving Netflix in the United States. With this announcement, will the famed sitcom still remain as popular?

On Tuesday, July 9, WarnerMedia announced its new streaming platform, HBO Max. Beginning in spring 2020, it will offer all episodes of Friends. As a result, the famed sitcom will leave Netflix US.

Netflix US acquired the rights to Friends on January 1, 2015, paying $30 million yearly. The streaming service original contract for the  rights ended on January 1, 2019. Netflix US then agreed to pay around $100 million to continue licensing the show through the end of 2019.

Now, WarnerMedia has decided not to allow Netflix US access to stream the show. WarnerMedia will offer Friends along with other popular items such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars. On the same day as the WarnerMedia announcement, Netflix US also announced the departure of Friends from its site.

At the end of the first quarter in 2019, 61.79 million people in the United States subscribe to Netflix. The number of TV households in the United States in 2019 was estimated at 119.9 million people. So more people have access to Friends reruns through cable TV than Netflix.

Netflix US will suffer, but the streaming service has steadily gained subscribers every year. Netflix US regularly adds new items, and Hidden Remote also keeps people informed of the new additions.

Will the loss of Friends on Netflix US affect the show’s popularity? In short, no. Its reruns air daily on several channels. Through syndication revenue, it pulls in a whopping $1 billion annually for Warner Brothers. Of that revenue, the six main cast members make $20 million.

In particular, TBS and Nickelodeon air reruns of the show daily. TBS airs Friends episodes during the daytime, but if you’re a night owl like myself, Nickelodeon airs Friends episodes during Nick at Nite. Needless to say, if you turn on your TV at some point during the day, you’re likely to find Friends.

What if you want to watch a specific episode which is not scheduled to air on any channel anytime soon? There is always the DVD option. Hidden Remote even analyzed whether it was cheaper to own the DVDs instead of stream Friends.

With all these varying ways to watch Friends, including stream it on HBO Max beginning in 2020, the show will not decline in popularity. Sure, it may not earn as much syndication revenue, but it will remain arguably one of the greatest sitcoms in television history.

Friends went on for 236 episodes over 10 seasons. In May, it marked 15 years since its series finale. This September will be the 25th anniversary of the series premiere. It gave us the cheesy pick up line, “How you doin’?” It launched the careers of all six stars. Moreover, to this day, Paul Rudd is occasionally asked, “How’s Phoebe?”

Lastly, its theme song “I’ll Be There For You” remains iconic. Countless people know its lyrics. Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon all have sung it. Jimmy Fallon and Friends star Matt LeBlanc even debated how many claps are in the theme song.

Rest assured, Friends popularity is safe. It will remain popular as long as people tune in to watch it. What may increasingly happen as the years pass is more calls for a reboot of the show. Several TV shows have been rebooted, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Roseanne was rebooted, and even after Roseanne Barr was fired from the show, it was successfully transformed into The Conners. Murphy Brown was rebooted, but it was cancelled due to very low ratings. Will & Grace also was revived, and it has since it garnered a two-season renewal.

Will the six cast members ever agree to return for a Friends revival? While Jennifer Aniston is open to the idea, Matt LeBlanc remains firmly adamant against it. To the cast’s credit, they agree to return only if all six are onboard.

At this point, a reboot of Friends is highly unlikely. Besides, the show continues to be popular, so as long as the demand is there, its popularity and pleas for a reboot will follow.

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How do you watch Friends? Will you subscribe to HBO Max beginning in 2020? Will you purchase the DVDs instead? Or are you like me where you didn’t watch the show on Netflix and instead watch it when it’s on TV? Let us know in the comments or at the Hidden Remote Twitter!