‘Friends’ Is Leaving Netflix

A still from the Friends episode The One That Could Have Been.
Handout / Getty Images

While the writing was on the wall for quite some time, it’s now official. Netflix will be saying goodbye to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe next year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Friends is leaving the streaming service and heading to WarnerMedia’s own streaming platform, HBO Max, which will officially launch in 2020.

In addition to Friends, HBO Max will also be the new streaming home for all the popular shows from The CW network, including Riverdale, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, and more. Additionally, the new streaming service will also include original feature films from Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon.

Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, promises that the new streaming service will provide top quality programming — both old and new.

“HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is Friends.”

While Netflix was likely anticipating this development for quite some time, it’s still a massive blow to the streaming service. Friends is one of the most popular shows among the streamer’s subscribers after all. As AdWeek notes, it sits alongside The Office and Grey’s Anatomy as the most watched show currently available on the platform.

In fact, licensed content actually makes up the majority of Netflix’s most viewed titles. Reporting on findings collected by the data analytics firm Jumpshot, Vox wrote that more than half of the 50 most popular shows streamed on Netflix are owned by companies planning to launch their own platforms.

Per Vox, The Office will also be leaving Netflix soon to make its way to NBCUniversal’s own upcoming streaming service. On top of that, Grey’s Anatomy is probably going to be reclaimed by Disney. While this isn’t the death knell for Netflix by any means, the streamer has some big shoes to fill when those shows finally depart for pastures new.

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The Friends gang in Central Perk.
  Warner Bros. Television / Getty Images

Of course, with Netflix’s continued focus on producing original content, they’ll be able to use the extra money to make fresh projects. This appears to be the mentality among Netflix’s higher-ups anyway. CEO Reed Hastings told The Drum how they see this as an opportunity to introduce even more exciting originals to subscribers.

“We’re charging forward. We’ve expected this decline of second window content, been ready for it, anticipated it, and in fact, we’re eager to have more and more of our money be able to do spectacular new titles.”