‘Friends’ Remains Enormously Popular Even After Being Removed From Netflix

Despite airing its final episode 16 years ago, Friends remains enormously popular, appealing to Gen Xers who watched it on NBC, millennials who grew up with the DVDs, and Gen Zers who know it from streaming, first on Netflix and soon on HBO Max. WarnerMedia paid $425 million for the rights to the sitcom, which is among the centerpieces for the soon-to-launch service, along with a Gossip Girl spin-off and the Studio Ghibli collection. There’s also the Friends reunion, where each of the show’s six stars “will be paid in the $3 million-$4 million range.” It’s worth every cent for HBO Max, as even when Friends isn’t available on streaming, fans are willing to spend big.

Variety reports that DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download sales of Friends have “roughly tripled” since it left Netflix last year, with “physical sales [spiking] in July and [remaining] high” ever since. The complete series collection currently costs $69.99 on Amazon. “At the beginning of [2020], it was the top-selling catalog-TV franchise in home entertainment,” senior vice president of TV marketing Rosemary Markson said. “We were seeing strong sales across both physical and digital, and we’ve seen a particularly strong uptick in digital. If you think of DVDs as the original bingeing mechanism, it’s a way to collect and adds permanence and repeatability to be able to watch the show.”

DVDs are the safest way to watch Friends (and any show, really) without fear of one company snatching the rights from another company, and keeping the episodes in a vault until, in this case, HBO Max finally launches in May. Well, DVDs, and endless reruns on TBS. Meanwhile, my Craigslist ad for “Caroline in the City season 2 DVD for sale — free or best offer!” goes unanswered.

(Via Variety)