While fan outcry may have saved Friends on Netflix for now, Warner Bros. Television executive Kevin Reilly told reporters at the Television Critics Association today that it is unlikely that will be a long-term situation.
During his executive session at TCA, Reilly (who serves as the President of TBS and TNT and Chief Creative Officer Turner and WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer) suggested that once the planned Warner Bros. streaming service is fully rolled out, it would not serve the company's interest to keep its biggest hits streaming somewhere else.
The streaming service will reportedly be in beta testing later this year, with a full rollout in 2020.
Will #Friends be pulled off Netflix? "I think you can expect the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on new Warner [streaming service," Reilly says. He doesn't think it's smart to share big assets like that. #TCA19— Marisa Roffman (@marisaroffman) February 11, 2019
Warner Bros. is the parent company of DC Entertainment, whose DC Universe app launched late last year and is already introducing its third new series -- Doom Patrol -- this week. While Warner's streaming app will likely share some DNA with DC Universe, the fan-centric app has room for things like comic books and message boards which likely will not be high priorities for the more general service.
Losing Friends will likely be a big deal, as the popular show still has massive appeal, nearly 15 years after it aired its series finale. It remains the third most popular sitcom in the United States, behind Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Big Bang Theory. The same is also true in the United Kingdom.
"If all the 'Netflix Killers' out there band together and take back their franchises, that would be a serious blow to Netflix," Peter Csathy, founder of CreaTV Media, had said around the time of the irst reports. "Kids and family viewing on Netflix represents a surprisingly high number, and kids watch franchise content over and over again. Netflix parents are happy to pay for that kind of babysitting so long as the content is there. If Disney princesses, Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Pixar and other mega properties pull out of the Netflix universe, Netflix most certainly would feel that."
Indeed, Friends's appeal is such that when it was in danger of expiring off Netflix, numerous fans tweeted that it was the only thing they still watched on the service. This potentially suggests that those consumers and others like them could be peeled off from Netflix to help serve as a base for the Warner service.