Near the end of 2018, Netflix paid WarnerMedia $100 million to stream “Friends” for just one more year. “Friends” remains one of the most popular shows on Netflix, and the company needed to retain it for a steep, eye-popping price. But soon, Netflix may not have any choice other than to move on, as “Friends” might not be there for them (sorry, had to).
That’s because major Netflix competitors have rolled a number of announcements in the last few months. WarnerMedia has hinted at plans to make its shows exclusive to its forthcoming new platform. Disney will roll out Disney+ later this year, despite also buying Hulu, meaning the company will have two streaming services that require content. NBC announced that its own upcoming streaming service could be the new home for its many popular shows. And even the tech giant Apple will get into the television game with a new service, potentially competing for the same licensing deals Netflix wants.
Of course, these new competitors join an already long list of streaming services, including CBS All Access, Amazon Prime and HBO, all of which have announced massive expansion plans.
None of this bodes well for Netflix, although the company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, has been open about anticipating this reckoning for years. Netflix hopes its Original content will adequately replace the disappearance of licensing deals.
But a study last year claimed that of the 20 most popular shows on Netflix, only five are Netflix Originals (seven if you count “Arrested Development” and “Gilmore Girls”). No Netflix Originals cracked the top five.
Of course, Netflix can potentially spend its way out of this. But the corporate maneuvering between these competitors will continue to play out over the next months, let alone years. In the meantime, you should probably prepare for the shows below to leave Netflix.
Where could it go? The forthcoming WarnerMedia streaming platform, which may debut before the end of the year.
“I think you can expect the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on our new service,” TBS and TNT President Kevin Reilly, who is helping create the new service, further clarified at an event in February. “Pulling it away [from Netflix]? It’s certainly something we’re willing to do.”
“Parks and Recreation”
Where could it go? NBC has a new streaming service coming in 2020.
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke spoke to The Wall Street Journal about pulling content away from Netflix to live on the new streaming service. The NBC streaming service won’t be a great deal at launch though, as it will have commercials and only be free to people with a cable subscription. So it remains likely that NBC will continue to license shows for at least a couple more years.
Where could it go? As with “Parks and Recreation,” this could end up as an exclusive on the NBC streaming platform.
NBCUniversal has apparently “begun internal discussions about removing ‘The Office’ from Netflix” when its licensing deal ends in 2021.
Where could it go? Despite airing on NBC, CBS actually has the distribution rights. CBS has its own streaming service, CBS All Access, which also has “Frasier” on the platform.
This one is more speculative, but in 2011, Netflix paid around $200 million for the short-term, nonexclusive rights to various CBS shows including “Frasier.” The going rate for these types of deals has only increased since, and with growing competition, Netflix may not be able to hold on to the show much longer.
“The Good Place”
Where could it go? The NBC streaming service.
NBCUniversal is still working out its distribution rights business versus making shows exclusive on the new platform. Again, the new service launches in 2020, but beyond that, information remains scarce.
Another wrinkle for “The Good Place” would be that most people seem to watch the show on Hulu as new episodes air. With Disney buying out NBCUniversal’s stake in that platform, the show may shift away from there as well.
“The West Wing”
Where could it go? The WarnerMedia platform.
Similar to “Friends,” Warner Bros. has the distribution rights for this show, despite “The West Wing” airing on NBC. Warner Bros. has hinted about wanting exclusivity, so the company might yank “The West Wing” from Netflix.
Where could it go? Disney+, the new streaming service that will launch in Nov. 12, 2019. Or possibly Hulu.
Disney owns ABC and will likely be hosting various shows from the network on Disney+. That said, Disney has also indicated that it wants to keep its more adult fare on Hulu rather than the more family-oriented Disney+ service. Netflix could also continue to pay for licensing rights, but with Disney now owning two different Netflix competitors, the company may just want to cut ties.
Where could it go? This has the same situation as “Scandal.” As an ABC show, this may end up on Disney+ or become more of a Hulu exclusive.
As another adult-oriented show, Disney may choose to keep this on Hulu. Disney has a more personal reason it may want to stop business with Netflix though. In 2017, Netflix gave Shonda Rhimes, the creator of “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” a megadeal to start creating new Netflix Original content. Rhimes had long been a huge asset for ABC (and Disney), so the company may want to take back what they can.
Where could it go? This has become another potential Disney+ or Hulu asset, but for a different reason than “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Disney bought 21st Century Fox earlier in 2019 for around $71.3 billion. This means Disney now has the rights to Fox shows such as “The Simpsons” and, of course, “New Girl.”
Where could it go? As with “Frasier,” CBS has the rights to “Twin Peaks,” so you can also watch it on CBS All Access currently. Showtime, on the other hand, has the exclusive rights to the 2017 revival, “Twin Peaks: The Return.”
Two different Netflix competitors having rights to the show doesn’t bode well. Still, CBS has said that the company will continue to license shows on a case-by-case basis despite expansion plans for CBS All Access. So fingers crossed that “Twin Peaks” remains available and doesn’t get stuck in the black lodge of a subscription service you don’t pay for.