To the horror of die–hard binge watchers, or casual viewers, Friends was removed from Netflix on Dec. 31.
It wasn’t the only beloved program that disappeared with the start of New Year, and it certainly won’t be the last. Some other classics that left Netflix so far this year include Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, The Pink Panther, and all four Rocky movies. Though these losses may seem abrupt and shocking to viewers, it’s business as usual for Netflix; Netflix is a revolving door when it comes to content, with programs entering and leaving the network monthly.
But why do shows leave Netflix? And when they do leave, where do they go?
Netflix acquires its shows and movies by licensing them from studios and other content creators across the globe. These licenses, unfortunately, aren’t forever—they have expiration dates. So, when a title’s expiration date approaches, the content will sadly be forced to leave Netflix.
Netflix does have the potential to renew a contract, though. In fact, Netflix has specific criteria to evaluate whether content is worth renewing. They investigate: “Are the rights to renew the licensing to stream still available? What is the popularity and cost of a particular title? Are there other seasonal or localized factors?”
When it comes to the streaming of Friends, the issue lies with the first two considerations. In 2015, Netflix bought the license for Friends for $30 million. Last year, due to the show’s tremendous popularity, the company had to pay a whopping $100 million to keep the show on its network. It’s safe to assume that keeping it another year would have cost the company even more, which likely served as a deterrent for the show’s renewal.
Sometimes a competing network resigns the show, cutting Netflix out of the picture entirely. Such is also the case with Friends. This spring, Friends will be making its comeback on HBO and Warner Media’s new streaming service, HBO Max. And, in January 2021, the iconic and beloved TV show The Office will be leaving Netflix to be featured exclusively on NBC’s new streaming service. So at this point, even if Netflix wanted to resign these shows, they’re no longer available for purchase.
In order to save yourself from the disappointment of starting something you won’t be able to finish, try checking its details on Netflix. And to find out what’s new on the horizon, check out the network’s Media Center.
If you’re unhappy with what you learn, you can request from Netflix to add a TV show or movie. Maybe if you aggressively fill out that form for the next couple of months, Netflix will hear your plea, and keep your beloved feature. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try.