“Seinfeld is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show,” Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins said in a statement. “Now, 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld remains center stage. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe.”
Hopkins bought the iconic sitcom for Hulu, which he was then running, in 2015, and announced the acquisition at a splashy NewFronts event. Hulu is paying $150 million per year for the rights to air the show domestically under the terms of that agreement. Amazon currently holds the non-U.S. global rights.
Under the new pact, which will run for five years, Netflix will be able to offer all 180 episodes of the sitcom to its subscribers all over the world in high-definition 4K. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but WarnerMedia paid $425 million to take back the domestic-only rights to Friends, while NBCU paid $500 million to reclaim The Office for U.S. viewers. Considering that Netflix’s rights for Seinfeld will be global, this should be a richer overall deal.
"Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against. It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time," said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, also in a statement.
Rights to highly popular, if not exactly fresh, sitcoms have become coveted properties in the brewing streaming wars between the likes of Disney, WarnerMedia, Netflix and Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
Seinfeld, which aired on NBC in primetime from 1989-98, has been airing on local television stations in broadcast syndication since 1995.
The Los Angeles Times first reported this story.