Netflix Secures ‘Seinfeld’ as Streaming Platforms Vie for Nostalgic Hits

Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards at the Rainbow Room, New York, November 17, 2004. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
September 17, 2019

Netflix has reportedly paid over $500 million for a show about nothing.

The streaming giant announced this week that it has secured distribution rights to Sony Pictures' Seinfeld (also endearingly known as "the show about nothing"). All 180 episodes of the series, which aired from 1989 to 1998, will be available for streaming worldwide in 2021.

"Seinfeld is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show," Mike Hopkins, the chairman of Sony Pictures Television, said in a statement to Cheddar. "Now, 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld remains center stage. We're thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe."

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Los Angeles Times, however, reported that Netflix ($NFLX) paid well over half a billion dollars for the streaming rights, according to anonymous sources.

The addition of Seinfeld to Neflix's offerings comes as the platform prepares to lose two of its most loved licensed series: The Office and Friends. Seinfeld will be making the jump from its current home on Hulu.

This deal comes as several other major entertainment and production companies ink deals to secure streaming rights to the cherished sitcoms of yore.

"It is a way to get attention because people know those shows," said Alan Wolk, the co-founder TV[R]EV, an entertainment analyst group. Wolk added that familiar and simple shows, the "ambient stuff," are especially sought after since they adhere to common streaming preferences — like, for instance, putting on a show while cooking dinner.

NBCUniversal said Tuesday that its forthcoming streaming platform, Peacock, will debut in April 2020 with hits such as The Office and Parks and Recreation. "Peacock will be the go-to place for both the timely and timeless," said Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversal's chairman of direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises.

HBO Max, WarnerMedia's streaming platform that will launch in spring 2020, has also secured several nostalgic favorites such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Friends, and The Big Bang Theory.

"Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like The Big Bang Theory," Robert Greenblatt, WarnerMedia's chairman of entertainment and direct-to-consumer, said in a statement Tuesday. "This show has been a hit virtually around the globe, it's one of the biggest shows on broadcast television of the last decade, and the fact that we get to bring it to a streaming platform for the first time in the U.S. is a coup for our new offering."