“Friends”: The TV Show That Keeps Giving

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Fans of the hit TV series “Friends” were relieved last week that all 236 episodes of the sitcom will continue to air on Netflix until 2019. This was made possible by the giant in a deal to streaming between Netflix and WarnerMedia, which cost the former $ 100 million $ 80 million, according to some reports, to continue licensing the show for 2019. However, some media sources say the deal could continue for several years after that.

Netflix has licensed “Friends” exclusively since 2015, but the new deal will remove the exclusive part, allowing WarnerMedia to air the show when the film and television company launches its own streaming service next year.

It has now been over 14 years since the show’s last air date, but the series is still raking the dough. This got us thinking: how long has “Friends” been a major money generator? So let’s do the numbers on one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

A success from the start

We all know the scene well. It’s Manhattan in the mid-90s at a cozy cafe called Central Perk.

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From there – and the apartments above – we watch six friends live together until their mid-twenties. Whether it’s having lots of dates, making tough career choices, dealing with typical family issues, we’ve lived the lives of Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey, laughing – and sometimes crying – along the way.

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The show’s first episode premiered on September 22, 1994 and was seen by nearly 22 million people. The show’s initial seven-page pitch, which premiered less than a year earlier, named the series “Insomnia Cafe.” The title evolved into “Six of One”, then “Friends Like Us”, and finally to the name we all know and love today: “Friends”.

Each member of the cast was paid $ 22,500 per episode in the first season. However, these figures would be grow significantly as the show progresses.

Building an inheritance

“Friends” was a hit early on, but it has grown in popularity over the years – with the exception of a slight sag in the odds around seasons five through seven.

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From the first to the last season, the series, its actors and its team were nominated and won several awards, including 62 Primetime Emmy nominations with six wins and 10 Golden Globe nominations with a victory.

In 2002, at the end of season eight, the six actors banded together to negotiate a salary of $ 1 million each per episode for season nine. At the time it was the biggest deal never done for a 30-minute television program. Many believed that season nine would conclude the series, but it was renewed for one more season after that and the cast members kept their record salaries.

Negotiate as a team was not a new concept for Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. Knowing that there was strength in numbers, the group formed a mini-union after season two, insisting that they were all paid the same amount. This union lasted until the end of the series.

All good things come to an end … or maybe not?

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The finale of “Friends”, which aired on May 6, 2004, had 52.46 million viewers, which makes it one of the most watched last episodes of a television series in history. However, this is actually not the most watched “Friends” episode of all time. The episode after the Super Bowl 1996 garnered 52.9 million viewers.

The cast’s pay per episode wasn’t the only dough they got from the show. After the end of season six and the return to the negotiating table, they all started to receive a portion of the show’s syndication profits.

Today, all six still receive 2% of the income from the syndication, or $ 20 million each per year, since the show always brings $ 1 billion per year for Warner Brothers. Additionally, now that the Netflix deal is underway, Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer can expect to see even more on their warner checks.

So with all this renewed hype around “Friends,” can fans expect to see a reboot anytime soon? According to Aniston, we may be waiting a long time for this to happen.


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