When you're picking what to watch on streaming, how do you decide? While some people reach out for something new, most settle into the shows they find comfort in. The ones they continue to go back to over and over again. Shows like Friends, The Office, and of course... Seinfeld.
In the 1990s, Seinfeld was the most-watched show on television. It quickly went to syndication, where it raked in new and old viewers who wanted to hang out with the gang as they dealt with close talkers, man hands, crazy clowns, chocolate babka, and Newman.
While the show made hundreds of millions of dollars for NBC while it was on the air, it made even more in syndication. TBS carried the show and played it as much as possible.
According to Time Magazine, "Seinfeld reruns continued to earn solid Nielsen ratings. By 2010, the show had earned $2.7 billion in reruns, according to Barry Meyer, chairman of Warner Brothers Entertainment. Usually, syndication deals decrease or end after a show loses cultural relevance—but in 2019, Viacom was still willing to pay an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 per episode for the rights to air the show on cable."
As streaming became popular, Seinfeld was the gateway sitcom for many people. They would choose where they wanted to watch based on who carried it. The show bounced around, with Netflix recently picking up this incredibly valuable addition to its lineup. Especially since they recently lost The Office.
This came at a humongous price. As of Oct. 1, Seinfeld is on Netflix for a five-year deal that reportedly cost over $500 million. But that wasn't even their first deal.
Of course, the new Netflix deal shows that the streamer is in the Jerry Seinfeld business. They bought Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, several stand-up specials, and have a new show called Unfrosted that he's producing as well. Having his sitcom felt like a natural fit.
Obviously, a lot of this is being done to add to Netflix's 209 million worldwide subscribers. Netflix has great brand recognition, but adding people has slowed. They need to keep making splashes to stay in business.
Tim Westcott, a media analyst at OMDIA, says, “Studios have other businesses to fall back on: linear channels, theatrical movies, theme parks and licensing. And streaming is a tiny part of the overall Amazon and Apple empires. Netflix is slightly vulnerable in that if their streaming business doesn’t keep growing to the extent it has, or if they start losing subscribers, they don’t have another business to fall back on.”
It'll be interesting to see if Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer continue to be such a cash cow for streamers in the future. Right now, they continue the trend we've seen of nostalgia and familiarity being quite popular on these channels.
How do you think this will change or stay the same in the future? Let us know in the comments.