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It’s real and it’s spectacular: Netflix buys exclusive rights to stream Seinfeld

"If I lose this Netflix streaming deal, that's it for me."
Enlarge / “If I lose this Netflix streaming deal, that’s it for me.”
Aurich Lawson / Seinfeld

Netflix and Sony Pictures Television confirmed on Monday that they had reached a streaming-exclusivity deal for one of the most popular TV series in the world: Seinfeld.

Beginning in 2021, Netflix will become the exclusive online-streaming home for the series throughout the world. This will bump current online distributors Hulu (USA) and Amazon (most other streamed regions). Hulu’s previous five-year deal for the series’ domestic streaming rights to the series was pegged at anywhere between $160M and $180M per year. This new Netflix’s deal likely adds up to more money based solely on its international reach, but neither Sony, Netflix, or Castle Rock Entertainment disclosed any terms.

The LA Times reported that Netflix has announced full 4K resolution support for Seinfeld’s Netflix run, a first for the series. It remains to be seen how this upscaling will be handled—whether to expect the original, grain-filled video being recreated like on some of the finest UHD Blu-rays on the market or if we will see significant digital touch-ups instead. (Either way, we wonder whether Kramer will apply his ingenuity to this 4K-ization, akin to his work on tie dispensers and male lingerie.)

The same report also alleges that Netflix outbid a huge field of streaming competitors for Seinfeld’s global streaming rights: NBCUniversal, CBS All Access, AT&T TimeWarner, Hulu, and Amazon. Notably missing from that list: Apple TV+ and Disney+, who each have their own paths paved for November 2019 service launches.

The news comes as Netflix faces stiffer competition in the nostalgic-TV sector. AT&T Time Warner is pushing full steam ahead with its HBO Max product in 2020, and the service made headlines in July when it announced that the ’90s sitcom Friends, which currently streams on Netflix, would jump ship to HBO Max upon its launch. This was followed by August’s massive HBO Max deal struck with BBC America to exclusively carry series like Dr. Who, Luther, and Top Gear.

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