Netflix acquires exclusive streaming rights to Seinfeld


Thus far, 2019 hasn’t been a great year for Netflix. Earlier this summer, the service revealed that it will be losing two of its most-viewed programs, “Friends” and “The Office.” Moreover, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia announced they would be launching their own subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms to challenge the firm’s market dominance. However, what’s most concerning is that the company lost over 130,000 subscribers in Q2 2019.

The entertainment corporation scored a victory today by announcing that it acquired the exclusive streaming rights to “Seinfeld.” All 180 episodes of the classic series about nothing in particular will be coming to the service in 2021. Netflix will also distribute the program in 4K resolution for the first time.

Big-Money Streaming Deal

Notably, Netflix didn’t disclose how much it paid Sony for the licensing rights to stream “Seinfeld.”

However, Bloomberg reports that the deal is worth “far more” than recent agreements for the rights to other beloved programs like “Friends” and “The Office.”

NBCUniversal paid $500 million over five years to stream the adventures of the Dunder-Mifflin gang on its forthcoming SVOD, Peacock. WarnerMedia shelled out $425 million to host the Central Perk squad on HBO Max. However, neither NBC nor Warner’s deals include the global streaming rights for their respective shows. Netflix’s “Seinfeld” licensing agreement will allow it to bring the show to its subscribers around the world.

As it happens, the Jerry Seinfeld-led sitcom kicked off the big-money streaming rights era a few years ago. In 2015, Hulu spent a reported $130 million to $180 million to host the Emmy Award-winning program until 2021.

Why Does Seinfeld Remain Popular?

Although the program went off the air in 1998, “Seinfeld” has remained enduringly popular. Though undeniably a product of its time, the show’s observational and misanthropic humor has given it a kind of timelessness. Admittedly, episodes built around 1991’s “JFK,” 777-Film, and hating Puerto Ricans haven’t aged well. Installments about waiting for a table at a restaurant and mastering one’s domain have fared much better.

When “Seinfeld” premiered in 1989, it immediately appealed to a broad audience because of its unique tone and style. Like its star’s standup act it seamlessly blended sarcasm, absurdities, and a willful lack of sincerity. As opposed to the warm and cuddly sitcoms of the era, the program’s characters didn’t learn or mature as the series progressed. The show’s central quartet is incredibly selfish and un-empathetic, which makes it hilarious to watch them interact with ordinary people.

The program is also notable for being stylistically ambitious. In addition to meandering plots that never resolve in a moral, “Seinfeld” also features episodes told in reverse and others built around meta-fictional conceits. Indeed, narratively adventurous shows like “Girls,” and “Atlanta” wouldn’t exist without the program’s influence.

Since “Seinfeld’s” producers have wisely kept the show in digital circulation, new audiences have discovered the program. Indeed, adults who were children when the series went off the air can now easily binge-watch it from start to finish. Meanwhile, with recent shows like “Mr. Robot” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” paying homage to the program, it’s never fallen out of cultural memory.

Now guaranteed a prominent place on America’s most popular streaming video service, “Seinfeld” can continue to serve as a multigenerational touchstone for years to come.