Netflix Pays for Serenity Now

Netflix has acquired five years of global streaming rights to NBC’s hit series ‘Seinfeld.’


LOUIS LANZANO/Associated Press

Updated Sept. 17, 2019 12:44 pm ET



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crazy, or is it so sane that you just blew your mind? The media company has acquired five years of global streaming rights to NBC’s hit series “Seinfeld.” The move comes just months after Netflix confirmed it would lose fan-favorites “Friends” and “The Office” in coming years. Financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. The Los Angeles Times cited unnamed sources describing the price as “far more” than the $500 million NBCUniversal paid for “The Office.” Netflix will start streaming “Seinfeld” episodes in 2021.

Netflix has been pouring billions into producing its own shows, but classics remain a big draw: “The Office” and “Friends” were the top two most-watched shows on Netflix last year, according to Nielsen. The company could use a little help from familiar faces. In the second quarter, Netflix reported a net loss in U.S. subscribers for the first time in eight years. And while losing roughly 130,000 subscribers is hardly significant shrinkage for a network with a global paid user base of over 150 million, it is certainly concerning for a market leader that is now playing in an increasingly crowded space. To remain the clear master of its domain, Netflix will need to continue to enchant viewers from all angles. While the company has said it expects subscriber growth to return this quarter, it also expects to burn $3.5 billion this year. Money spent on keeping old friends like “Seinfeld” mean less resources to deploy to original content. At $12.99 a month, Netflix’s standard subscription is among the priciest of streaming services currently available. That is also nearly double the cost of the Disney+ service that will begin in November and include content from top-tier properties such as Marvel, Pixar and “Star Wars.” Netflix said that recent price increases may have contributed to user declines in the quarter so meeting subscriber expectations is important. Ultimately, Netflix investors will have to hope that a show about nothing can still be very valuable, even 30 years after its premiere. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Write to Laura Forman at

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