After losing The Office and Friends, Netflix has stepped up to secure the SVOD rights to another classic NBC comedy series. The streamer, which had emerged as the main contender for the Seinfeld library, has struck a deal with distributor Sony Pictures Television to become the global exclusive streaming home for the entire Seinfeld collection beginning in 2021, when the series’ domestic pact with Hulu expires, for five years.
This is the first time Seinfeld will be available on Netflix and the first time that all 180 episodes will be on one service globally and in 4K. Seinfeld made its streaming debut with the Hulu deal. Internationally, it is streaming on Amazon in a number of territories; that will all be consolidated on Netflix under the new deal.
“Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against. It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix. “We can’t wait to welcome Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer to their new global home on Netflix.”
As Deadline reported last month, Sony Pictures Television this summer had taken out Seinfeld, which the studio distributes.
“Seinfeld is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show. Now, 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld remains center stage,” said Mike Hopkins, Chairman, Sony Pictures Television. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe.”
The 1990s sitcom is tied up until 2021 in its exclusive SVOD deal at Hulu. In the previous negotiations, Sony synched up the off-network cable deal for Seinfeld at TBS with the streaming pact at Hulu, so all rights become available at the same time.
Sony TV pitched the show to multiple streamers, including HBO Max and Netflix. There reportedly was no asking price that the distribution company was floating but they were said to be targeting a deal of a size similar to that for fellow 1990s Must See TV tentpole Friends in the red-hot marketplace. That would be a major premium over the reported $130+ million Seinfeld‘s current Hulu deal pays.
HBO Max was considered an obvious choice as Seinfeld is owned by Warner Bros. via Castle Rock, as is the series’ current cable network home, TBS. However, after shelling $425 million for Friends and getting ready to write a giant check for The Big Bang Theory (and possibly Two and a Half Men), which is expected to cross the $1 billion mark, industry sources speculated that the company may be tapped out for the moment or at least preoccupied until they can close a deal for Big Bang..
Hulu was not expected to step up in a major way to keep Seinfeld. The sitcom is said to have done OK on the Disney-owned platform though nowhere near the performance of Friends or The Office on Netflix. I hear Seinfeld only generates less than 1% of the viewing on Hulu.
While I hear other streamers, including HBO Max, Hulu and NBCU, whose network NBC aired Seinfeld originally, submitted bids, Netflix’s offer was the one to beat.
That left Netflix as the most likely candidate. The streamer already has a $100-million deal with Jerry Seinfeld for his show Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and two-stand-up specials.
Netflix also was able to bid higher because it takes worldwide rights vs. domestic only for most of the other streaming platforms that are in the off-network business, which don’t have international footprint yet. While known internationally, unlike Friends for example, which is a global hit, Seinfeld’s appeal is concentrated largely within the U.S.
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