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HBO Max set for 2020 streaming launch, nabs 'Friends' from Netflix

  • Published at 07:59 pm July 10th, 2019

Although Netflix rarely publishes viewership figures, it reportedly paid $100 million to extend streaming rights by just one year for the New York-based sitcom starring Jennifer Aniston in 2018

WarnerMedia will launch its new Netflix rival HBO Max in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights to stream its hugely popular television comedy Friends, the company said Tuesday.

The new service will enter an increasingly crowded TV streaming marketplace, vying for customers with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon as well as the soon-to-be-launched Disney+, Comcast's NBC Universal and Apple's upcoming product.

Friends -- which ended back in 2004 -- is believed to be one of Netflix's most-watched shows, capturing a new generation of viewers since it was licensed by WarnerMedia to the streaming market leader in 2014.

Although Netflix rarely publishes viewership figures, it reportedly paid $100 million to extend streaming rights by just one year for the New York-based sitcom starring Jennifer Aniston in 2018.

"We're sorry to see Friends go to Warner's streaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in the US). Thanks for the memories, gang," Netflix said Tuesday in a Twitter post labelled "The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye."

As well as all 236 episodes of Friends, the HBO Max platform will group together WarnerMedia's vast library of shows and films, along with premium HBO content including Game of Thrones, and new original programming.

Pricing for the new service has not been announced, with more details to follow later this year, a WarnerMedia spokesman told AFP.

The launch of HBO Max will see Warner Media become the latest media-entertainment conglomerate to move into on-demand streaming, as consumers shift away from traditional "linear" television and hefty cable TV bundles.

The announcement indicates parent company AT&T will offer a single streaming product, expanding on its existing HBO service, rather than a separate service with content from its newly acquired Time Warner and Turner television operations.

As a result, the new service will also include exclusive streaming rights to shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars.

AT&T survived an antitrust challenge and last year finalized a deal to acquire Time Warner, which included the Warner Bros studios, Cartoon Network, Turner Broadcasting and other assets for some $85 billion.

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