Reruns of American sitcom Friends has streamed on Netflix since 2018, as part of a $100m deal
There has been consistent speculation that the much-loved sitcom about six New Yorkers, which ran for ten seasons until 2004, will return for a reunion this year to mark its 25th anniversary.
"I would do it. The girls would do it. And the boys would do it, I'm sure," Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green, said during a TV interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week.
One person certainly keen to see new episodes of Friends back on the air is Kelly Luegenbiehl, vice president of international originals at Netflix.
“That seems to be the most universally loved show,” she told Arabian Business in an interview in Jordan on Wednesday at the premiere of Jinn, the video on demand service’s first Arabic TV show.
“I don't know about Netflix, but I would love to watch that,” she added.
Netflix last year paid $100 million to stream reruns of the show, which also starred Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, until the end of 2019.
Friends originally ran on NBC and a spokesperson told Arabian Business on Thursday that the American network does not hold the rights to the programme, so any reunion show could conceivably appear on any other global network or streaming outlet.
“As the studio, Warner [Brothers] holds the rights to Friends,” the NBC spokesperson said.
Warner Brothers has not yet replied to a request for comment on any ambitions it may have for the show, but Marta Kauffman, one of the three main producers on Friends, throw cold water on any plans for a revival.
“Why mess up a good thing?” she told Associated Press newswire this week. “We wouldn’t want a reunion to disappoint fans.”
The series finale, which aired on May 6, 2004, was watched by 52.5 million American viewers, making it the fifth most-watched series finale in television history.
Reruns of the show have also proved popular in the Middle East. “We had it in the region before Netflix did. They saw the success of Friends on our service,” Maaz Sheikh, the CEO of rival streaming service Starz Play, told Arabian Business earlier this year.
“Unless you have real insights into what people are watching, you cannot estimate whether Friends will work in Egypt or not. But we saw it working and so we doubled down on it and then Netflix looked at how successful it was for us on social media, and they went and acquired the rights for it,” he added.
Starz Play boasts a 23.97 percent market share of the video on demand market in the Middle East and North Africa, beating Netflix’s 18.39 percent cut.
The Dubai service has over one million subscribers in 19 countries, where it offers thousands of blockbuster Hollywood movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and dedicated Arabic and Bollywood content with the help of its main investor, US entertainment corporation Lionsgate.