'Friends' will remain on Netflix in 2019, but a deal with AT&T raises new questions about the show's streaming future
- A note on Netflix's "Friends" show page on Monday said that it would leave the service in January.
- But Netflix pulled the note and posted on social media that "Friends" would be available throughout 2019.
- Netflix and AT&T are in the process of finalizing a deal to keep the show on Netflix while allowing AT&T to also include it on its upcoming streaming service.
The internet lost its mind on Monday when a note on Netflix's show page for "Friends" said the show would be leaving the service on January 1.Thanks partly to its availability on Netflix, which acquired the streaming rights in 2015, the 1990s sitcom is still a beloved and hugely popular property. Soon after the news blew up the internet, Netflix pulled the note from the page and, later on Monday, posted to social media that the show would still be available to stream throughout 2019.
While "Friends" is safe on Netflix for now, new questions have been raised about its future in streaming.
The Warner Bros. series is the subject of negotiations between Netflix and AT&T, which bought Time Warner earlier this year. Before Netflix announced the show would remain on its service, there was speculation that the reason for its departure was that it would be moving to AT&T's own streaming service, which is expected to launch in 2019.
According to The Wall Street Journal, that's still somewhat the case. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson confirmed at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Tuesday that Netflix and AT&T are in the process of finalizing a multi-year agreement to keep "Friends" on Netflix, but allow AT&T "the flexibility" to put the show on its upcoming service.
Since AT&T bought Time Warner, it's made known its strategy to beef up content to compete with Netflix. Quantity is just as important as quality. That means HBO, which AT&T now owns and is expected to be included in its service, will face a major strategy shift.The drama around "Friends" is not the only rights situation Netflix has had to deal with lately.
Disney will end a deal with the streaming giant ahead of launching its own service, Disney+, in 2019. Marvel, Star Wars, and other content will be included. Fox-owned "Sons of Anarchy" already left Netflix this month , signaling what could be coming after the Disney-Fox merger is finalized (it still streams on Hulu, which Disney owns a large percentage of).