Fans of Friends were given a temporary reprieve last year when Netflix was able to secure a last-minute deal for $80 million to keep the beloved 90s series around through to the end of 2019 — after it was announced that the streaming platform might lose its hold. But a temporary reprieve is all it was, unfortunately, because on Tuesday it was announced that beginning in 2020, Friends will move to WarnerMedia’s upcoming rival streaming service, HBO Max.
According to the Wall Street Journal, WarnerMedia had the option to continue sharing Friends with Netflix under the previous deal but ultimately decided it remove it from the catalog entirely. Friends, which began streaming on Netflix in 2015, was reportedly the platform’s second most-watched show in 2018.
HBO Max is said to have made a $425 million deal to stream Friends for five years through 2025 “in what was essentially a transaction inside WarnerMedia,” according to a source familiar with the terms. And that’s apparently not all the bad news, as HBO Max will likely cost more than what subscribers are already paying for Netflix, which currently stands at $12.99 per month.
HBO, which already has its own streaming service called HBO Now with more than 8 million subscribers, will anchor the new platform. A price for HBO Max hasn’t been set yet, but it is likely to be slightly more than the $14.99 HBO Now costs, people familiar with the matter said.
Netflix announced the sad news on Tuesday in a tweet that played off the series episode titles, “The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye.”
Fans were unsurprisingly not thrilled to hear the news, or about the thought of having to add on yet another streaming service. HBO Max will join an already overcrowded marketplace of new streaming services such as Disney+, NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service (which will likewise take back The Office from Netflix in 2021), and Apple TV+.
As such, many took to Twitter to sound off their displeasure:
Although as a silver lining, maybe now Netflix will have the spare dough to bring back some of its original content that left the world too soon?
It just goes to show the enduring popularity of a series that went off the air over 15 years ago. While it may not be commercial free, fans can at least still catch Friends in syndication on TBS, Nick at Nite, and whatever other basic cable networks still air it.