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Old Shows Go for Big Bucks in the New Streaming Wars

We’re supposedly living in a golden age of television, with seemingly endless options for the viewer with discriminating tastes. I’m inclined to believe it, because, in spite of Hollywood’s doubling down on wokeness, there’s something for just about everybody.

Love comedy? You’re sure to find something that will make you laugh. Are you into drama? There are tons of shows that you’ll love. Even if you’re like me, and your tastes run Anglophile, you can find streaming services that specialize in British series.

With all the options and the opportunities for new content, you’d think that the biggest money would go toward the most creative producers of new shows and exciting concepts. But you’d be mistaken.

Nope, streaming services are shelling out big bucks for older hit shows. Existing and forthcoming services are hoping to use these latter day classics to lure fans in, and they’re even creating streaming wars.

Among other deals, Netflix has forked over more than $500 million for the rights to stream Seinfeld beginning in 2021. Hulu paid only $130 million for six years of rights beginning in 2015.

The upstarts are opening up their wallets for big deals of their own. HBO Max, launching in 2020, has reportedly paid over $600 million for The Big Bang Theory and $425 for Friends. NBC is launching their own streaming service in 2020 as well – the horribly named Peacock – and they’ve shelled out $500 million for The Office and an undisclosed amount for Parks and Recreation.

The streaming providers are counting on these older shows, called catalog content, to generate lots of views, and hopefully streamers will stay for original content after they’re done. It’s a big, expensive gamble, but it looks to pay off – at least until viewers get tired of paying for so many streaming services.

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