UPDATE: Following Netflix’s $500 million acquisition of Seinfeld’s streaming rights, Viacom secured the cable syndication rights to the beloved sitcom, Variety reports. The deal will allow Seinfeld repeats to air on Viacom networks like Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land beginning October 2021, when the sitcom’s long association with TBS will come to an end.
Netflix announced the news on Monday via Twitter, stating that all 180 episodes of the Emmy-winning series would be made available globally on its platform, starting in 2021 and running for a five-year contract.
“Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a statement. “It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time. We can’t wait to welcome Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer to their new global home on Netflix.”
All 180 episodes of the Emmy-Award winning Seinfeld are coming to Netflix — worldwide! — starting in 2021 pic.twitter.com/tLvcCKH4vl
— Netflix US (@netflix) September 16, 2019
There’s no doubt that, in acquiring Seinfeld, Netflix is trying to fill the Friends-shaped hole that will be left when that series departs for HBO. In December 2018, Netflix spent $100 million to keep Friends through the end of 2019, then in July it was announced that WarnerMedia had spent $425 million to get the Nineties sitcom back for HBO Max. Along with Friends, the forthcoming HBO Max platform will also feature Pretty Little Liars, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and HBO’s back catalog. On top of losing Friends, Netflix is also set to relinquish another streaming juggernaut, The Office, which will appear on NBCUniversal’s forthcoming streaming app in 2021.
Seinfeld is currently streaming on Hulu which, until earlier this year, was also owned by WarnerMedia. The platform was sold to Disney in May 2019 when the conglomerate bought out Comcast’s Hulu share. Seinfeld was originally slated to move to HBO Max along with Friends when the show’s contract with Hulu expired at the end of 2020, but that was before Netflix struck a deal with Seinfeld distributor Sony Pictures Television. Seinfeld is still partially owned by WarnerMedia, along with CBS and the show’s two co-creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.