Streaming giant Netflix recently announced it will be the exclusive streaming home for Seinfeld starting in 2021. Given that Seinfeld is one of the most popular shows in the history of television, the company had to pay a pretty penny for the rights. But how much scratch are we talking?
According to sources speaking to The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, Netflix paid Sony Pictures Television more than $500 million for the five-year streaming rights. It’s a big get for Netflix, as the streaming network recently lost The Office and Friends to rival streaming services.
According to reports, NBCUniversal paid $500 million to take The Office off Netflix and put it on its own streaming service beginning in 2021, while WarnerMedia is estimated to have paid $425 million to pick up Friends and take it away from Netflix as well. These deals, which are said to span five years, are for US streaming rights only, whereas the Seinfeld deal reportedly is global.
Hulu is the current exclusive streaming site for Seinfeld in the United States. According to the reports, the company paid $130 million for a six-year deal that expires in 2021.
Netflix is said to have outbid Hulu, Amazon, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal for the streaming rights to Seinfeld. Viacom, which recently merged with GameSpot’s parent company, CBS, also reportedly put in a bid for Seinfeld to run on CBS All Access before Netflix ultimately won out.
“Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told The LA Times. “It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time.”
Seinfeld’s rights and ownership is mixed between numerous different companies, including WarnerMedia and CBS (which is GameSpot’s parent company), along with the show’s creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Each company and individual will receive a cut of the $500 million-plus, with Sony taking a “significant percentage” as the program’s overall distributor. Seinfeld was originally produced at the now-defunct Castle Rock, which is now owned by WarnerMedia.
While Netflix is getting the exclusive streaming rights to Seinfeld, re-runs of the show will still be shown on TV and WarnerMedia’s own network TBS. According to WSJ, Sony Pictures Television has already negotiated $3 billion worth of rerun deals over the years for Seinfeld.