UPDATE 12/4/18: Randall Stephenson, CEO of WarnerMedia's parent company AT&T, clarified that the deal to keep Friends on Netflix is not exclusive, meaning that Friends can go on Warner Bros.' streaming service when it launches in late 2019 as well. It's possible that this means that Friends will stay on Netflix beyond 2019, but Stephenson didn't elaborate on the terms of the deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The original post is below.
UPDATE 6:10 P.M. ET: The official Netflix Twitter account has confirmed that Friendswill continue to reside on the streaming site all through 2019."The Holiday Armadillo has granted your wish: "Friends" will still be there for you in the US throughout 2019," Netflix wrote.
UPDATE 3:45 P.M. ET: Looks like Friends isn't leaving Netflix on Jan. 1 after all. The "Available Until 01/01/2019" banner has been removed from Netflix's Friends page and Netflix chief content office Ted Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter that the show's "departure is a rumor." A rumor that originated with Netflix, but OK. The expiration date may have had to do with ongoing contractual negotiations that got worked out.
The day Friends fans feared is coming: the beloved sitcom is leaving Netflix on Jan. 1.
Netflix users began noticing a troubling warning on the show page: "Available Until 01/01/2019." Dun dun dunnn! Here's a screenshot from my own Netflix app:
Protesting to keep Friends on Netflix is futile, because Friends' exit is a cold, hard business decision. WarnerMedia, the company that owns Friends, is developing its own streaming service and wants Friends for itself because it's an incredibly valuable property; by one estimate, it's still the third-most popular comedy in America, almost fifteen years after it went off the air. Netflix doesn't release viewer data, so there's no way to know for sure how many people are watching Friends on the streaming service, but anecdotally it's one of its most popular shows, one that people watch over and over again.
This is going to keep happening as other companies develop their own streaming platforms and pull their content from Netflix. Disney will be launching its own streaming service Disney+ in 2019, and is slowly pulling Disney, Marvel and Star Wars content from Netflix and allowing the Marvel shows it makes in partnership with Netflix to end. Netflix didn't use to be in such fierce competition with companies like Warner Bros. and Disney, but it is now. One of the main reasons Netflix produces so much original content is to have a robust enough library that users won't cancel their subscriptions when stuff like Friends leaves.
So get your last binge of all ten seasons of Friends in now, because we don't know when it will be back.