Friends' creators approve of moving the show from Netflix to HBO Max. The multi-Emmy winning sitcom is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, and although it ended back in 2004, the series continues to be extremely popular.
A big reason for this immense popularity is the continued syndication of Friends, but even more than that, the arrival of the complete series of the hit sitcom on Netflix in 2015 brought the show to a whole new generation of viewers. Without adding a new season or rebooting the concept or even releasing a reunion special, Friends has consistently been one of the most popular programs available to stream on Netflix. Now, with big anniversary celebrations starting to get underway, the popularity of the series will likely continue to grow, though its days aboard the Netflix roster are unfortunately coming to a close. The subscription streaming market is taking off in more ways than ever before, with Netflix’s stature as the biggest and best quite possibly at risk in the coming year.
What this means in terms of programming is that many networks and studios are taking their original programming back, in order to build up their own streaming network libraries. One such example is WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max. Earlier this summer it was revealed that Friends would be leaving Netflix for HBO’s new streaming network. During a Friends 25th anniversary celebration at the Tribeca TV Festival, series creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, as well as executive producer Kevin Bright, made it clear that the move from Netflix to HBO Max was entirely okay with them. As THR reports, Kauffman addressed the move by saying: "It makes so much sense that we're on HBO Max. I understand it. I get it. The show is still all around the world in syndication. So I think other people are more upset than we are." Expanding on those sentiments, Bright said:
"In show business there's always change. Where we win on both sides is we feel privileged to be with a company like Netflix to stream us the first time and we're privileged to be with HBO Max in the second run. It's really exciting what they're starting over there and we're happy to be a part of it."
HBO Max is set to arrive in 2020, and will host a wide variety of popular programming. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Warner’s new service will topple Netflix, HBO Max is certainly going to put up a decent fight for a share of Netflix’s customer base, with exclusive rights to Doctor Who, the original UK version of The Office and Luther already confirmed, as well as potentially sealing a deal for The Big Bang Theory. In addition to licensed programming, HBO Max will have more than its fair share of original programming, which as we’ve also seen with Netflix, can make a huge difference in terms of popularity and demand.
As for fans of Friends, the move from Netflix to HBO Max is likely quite disagreeable, especially for those who have no intention of subscribing to both Netflix and HBO’s latest offering. It’s not surprising to see the show’s creators and executive producer in favor of the move, either, as they will happily (and understandably) go wherever the money is. All that being said, Friends still exists in syndication, and for those fans who simply must have their favorite sitcom in pristine quality without commercial interruptions, there is, of course, always the option of owning the complete set on Blu-Ray.