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December 4, 2018

Could Netflix be any more desperate to keep streaming Friends?

After reports spread Monday that the classic NBC sitcom was leaving Netflix, the streaming platform has reached an agreement with WarnerMedia to keep it around for at least one more year, writes The New York Times. The price? Oh not much, just "around $100 million."

Netflix was previously paying WarnerMedia $30 million a year to license the show. The Hollywood Reporter disputes this number, though, pegging the new deal's worth at closer to $70 million or $80 million.

Either way, this is a clear sign of just how valuable Friends is to Netflix. One analytics firm recently found that even though it went off the air in 2004, Friends is still the third most popular sitcom in the United States, and that includes shows that are currently airing new episodes like Modern Family, per Deadline. Some Netflix users were informed earlier this week that the show was scheduled to leave Netflix on January 1, but Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos dismissed the apparently erroneous notifications as a "rumor," and it was officially announced Tuesday that the show will remain through the end of 2019.

WarnerMedia at the end of next year is planning to launch its own streaming service, which has led many to assume Friends will be yanked from Netflix at that point. But the Reporter notes the new Netflix deal is a multi-year agreement that will be non-exclusive after 2019. WarnerMedia can terminate it at the end of next year if it wants to, but the agreement means Friends could potentially remain on both platforms and the Central Perk gang may be there for Netflix subscribers for many years to come. Brendan Morrow

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