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‘Friends’ is leaving Netflix at midnight and won’t be available to stream until May

Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller on NBC’s “Friends.”

NBC | Getty Images

On New Year’s Day, the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey will be gone from Netflix — and won’t be available to stream until May.

“Friends,” the hit ’90s sitcom, has lived on the streaming service since 2015 when Netflix paid $100 million for the rights to exclusively stream it on its platform. The sitcom has been a staple on Netflix and it’s second most-streamed show in 2018, according to data from Nielsen.

In July, WarnerMedia outbid Netflix, to the tune of around $400 million to $500 million, for the rights to the TV show. All 236 episodes will be available on HBO Max when it launches in May.

In the meantime, “Friends” will not be available to stream. Fans desperate for episodes will need to either purchase digital copies of the episodes or seek out the full 10 season DVD pack.

“Friends” is a syndicated show, so cable subscribers will still be able to catch episodes, but not at their own pace.

A similar fate awaits “The Office” next year. The show’s rights were purchased by NBC for an estimated $500 million and it will appear on the Peacock streaming service, which launches in April, in 2021. There shouldn’t be a long gap between the show leaving Netflix and arriving on the NBC platform.

“The Office” has been a staple on Netflix, and was far and away the most streamed show on the service in 2018. Viewers streamed more than 52 million minutes of the show that year — 20 million more than “Friends.”

In response to losing “Friends” and “The Office,” Netflix purchased the rights to “Seinfeld.” All 180 episodes of the TV show will arrive on the platform starting in 2021, when the comedy show’s contract with Hulu is up.

Disclosure: Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, owns NBCUniversal.

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