The Show About Nothing That Just Keeps on Going
There are some shows that just won’t die in the collective pop-culture imagination of America: M.A.S.H, Cheers, The Office, and Friends come to mind immediately.
And now, the last certified hit of the mass television era, Seinfeld, is coming to Netflix.
After moving from being on the air in the 90’s to being in syndication for much of the first decade of the 21st century, and then moving to Crackle (remember Sony Studios attempt at streaming?) and then to Hulu, now the streaming giant Netflix has inked a deal to acquire Seinfeld for more than $500 million dollars for global and domestic streaming rights.
From the LA Times:
“As part of a deal with Sony Pictures Television, which controls the distribution of the iconic TV show, Netflix will offer all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld” in the U.S. and to its 151 million subscribers throughout the world when the five-year pact takes effect in 2021, the companies announced Monday.
“‘Seinfeld’ is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show,” Sony Pictures Television Chairman Mike Hopkins said in a statement to The Times. “Now, 30 years after its premiere, ‘Seinfeld’ remains center stage. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe.”
By the way, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, WarnerMedia, CBS, and a few other entities are all getting back end portions of the streaming deal when it is finalized.
That’s Some Expensive Coffee
Jerry Seinfeld, who has made a name for himself in the current era with his short-form streaming show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix, has proven to be a shrewd businessman, riding out the wave of the goodwill he generated from being on the show.
Jerry does continue to perform stand-up (I just saw him a few years ago live where I live) with tickets to his shows still selling in the $175 to $500 range.
That’s a lot of cheddar.
Or, coffee with comedians in vintage cars.
Speaking of which, Seinfeld has also proven to be the most outspoken of a group of comics who are pushing back against “woke” culture, including Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr, and others.
So, speaking up hasn’t hurt him financially, and clearly the general public still loves his schtick with his other three “friends” in the NYC of your imagination from the 1990s.
No word on how much cash from the deal Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, or Jason Alexander are getting.
But, you can be sure that there will be more episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm as a result of this deal, because, with that much money, Larry David is bound to have more “walking around Larry David” problems to riff on for at least another five years.
Netflix Remains Culturally Relevant For Now
By ripping this deal away from both Walt Disney (who owns Hulu where Seinfeld streams now) and NBCUniversal (who are launching their own streaming service in 2020) and by snagging the global rights to distribution from Amazon Studios, Netflix has done what observers like us here on this site thought they couldn’t:
They remained a relevant player in the heating up streaming wars.
Think about it:
- Netflix’s streaming rights Friends and The Office deals are about to expire which are two shows that draw the Millennial crowd to the platform in droves.
- Netflix’s subscriber base in the US is declining and its base globally is also struggling to expand.
- Netflix watched the Mouse House acquire 20th Century Fox, which will mean the entire 20th Century Fox line-up of movies will be leaving Netflix soon. And Disney is planning to pull their entire MCU film catalog from the platform in order to fluff up their Disney+ streaming service
- Netflix is in the position of having to develop more film and short-form, serialized TV-like content and their films (The Irishman aside) don’t much look like Oscar contenders this year.
There are a lot of problems for Netflix to solve in the streaming wars, and the Seinfeld streaming deal (which they reportedly overpaid for) is an attempt to remain relevant and draw in the 45-64-year-old subscribers to the platform who remember when Seinfeld was actually on the air.
Plus, now Netflix really has Jerry in their back pocket.
So don’t be surprised if there is an announcement in the next few months about Jerry penning a multiyear, multi-stand-up special deal for the streaming platform moving forward into the year 2021 and beyond.
What do you all think about this deal?
Sound off below.