Three years after landing on Netflix, there’s been an uptick in chatter over the last couple of months that NBC’s mega-popular sitcom Friends may be finally leaving the streaming service come January 1st.
Media analyst Rich Greenfield suggested as much in an analyst note back in October — specifically, that Friends might depart Netflix next year for the new streaming service that Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia is launching towards the end of 2019. Meanwhile, fans of the show went into full freak-out mode over the weekend when someone spotted a note on the show’s Netflix page that said it would be leaving the service on January 1st.
At the time of this writing, however, that expiration date has disappeared from the show’s Netflix page. And Netflix’s chief content officer himself has gone on the record about the matter, with Ted Sarandos telling The Hollywood Reporter that Friends‘ “departure is a rumor.” Naturally, fans have been posting emotional tweets over the last couple of days expressing their despair about Friends potentially leaving Netflix:
With Friends leaving Netflix in 2019 The Office will now be the only thing keeping Netflix in business
— Nolan Hibsman (@NHibsman) December 2, 2018
Friend is officially leaving Netflix on January 1st I am cancelling my subscription you guys are the worst @netflix
— olivia ℠ ⚡️ (@o_goodman) December 2, 2018
friends is leaving netflix but i’m willing to pay $150 to be able to watch it on youtube
— katie☁️🌙 (@colleensmotive) December 2, 2018
As THR notes, Friends made its streaming debut back in 2015 with its arrival on Netflix, to much fanfare. It’s currently the show’s exclusive streaming home, though it’s still in syndication on a variety of cable channels.
The appearance of the expiration date is what set everyone off, but as THR explains: “Expiration dates appearing and disappearing may be a function of the streaming service’s contracts expiring and possible renegotiations taking place.” (Translation: It happens all the time, TV fans. Not to worry.)
The idea that Friends would leave Netflix for WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, meanwhile, is of course not a radical idea either. While we don’t have a full idea yet what its inventory of titles will consist of, WarnerMedia chief John Stankey has said the service will arrive in the fourth quarter next year and offer consumers three tiers. They’ll include an entry-level package, a premium version with original programming and hit movies, and then a third offering that blends those first two in addition to content from third parties.
(UPDATE: Netflix confirmed via a tweet late Monday afternoon that ‘Friends’ will stay on the service through 2019. As for beyond that, it’s expected the show will move to WarnerMedia’s new platform sometime after that, presumably in 2020.)