Popular sitcom to move to newly-created 'HBO Max' streaming service next year.
The popular 1990s sitcom Friends will move from Netflix to WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service next year, in the latest move by legacy media companies to fight back against the tech group that has ravaged their business.
AT&T-owned WarnerMedia on Tuesday revealed details about its own streaming service, which aims to win back customers from Netflix.
The service, called "HBO Max", is set to launch in the spring of 2020 with the exclusive rights to HBO's full library, Time Warner's television classics like Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, as well as new films produced by Hollywood heavyweights Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon.
After years of watching consumers shift their attention away from traditional television and towards Netflix, traditional media companies are fighting back. Walt Disney and AT&T have between them spent more than $150bn on megadeals to build up their arsenals of content, and are working to launch their own streaming services within the next year.
Media companies must choose what content to restrict to their own streaming services, and what to keep available on platforms like Netflix where hundreds of millions of people might watch it. This will not only determine how valuable their streaming services might be — it will also directly impact revenues. MoffettNathanson analysts predict Disney's streaming push will slice revenues for its film studio and media networks units by $1.4bn in fiscal 2020.
As the streaming battle heats up, some fan favourites will be pulled from Netflix. Last month Comcast-owned NBCUniversal announced it had taken the rights back for The Office starting in 2021. The Office and Friends are the two most-watched programmes on Netflix, according to Nielsen.
Last year Netflix warned customers Friends could be taken down from its platform soon, sparking fury among fans. However Netflix struck a deal with AT&T to extend its rights to the sitcom for another year, paying nearly $100m for it.
Netflix said in a tweet it was "sorry to see Friends go to Warner's streaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in The US)."
Written by: Anna Nicolaou
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