Netflix passes on purchasing 'Seinfeld' streaming rights

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Image: Seinfeld cast via Shutterstock

‘No Seinfeld for you… on Netflix?” It appears on-demand video streaming giant Netflix has passed on acquiring the rights to “the show about nothing.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the price to purchase all nine seasons of Seinfeld totalling 180 episodes is far too high for Netflix. This effectively allows video streaming competitors Amazon, Hulu and Yahoo to bid for the Sony property that aired on NBC during the 1990s, with the rights holder attaining a greater marketshare of the video streaming market.

Each episode of Seinfeld is expected to fetch a price of more than US$500,000 for a combined deal worth about US$90 million. The deal would allow the rights holder to air the series for a limited period of time.

In 2014, Netflix acquired the rights to Friends for US$500,000 per episode, a contract that permits the company to stream the episode for a period of four years. However, industry analysts note the Seinfeld deal will likely provide an insufficient value for the company if it does not run for at least a decade.

More recently, Hulu purchased all 300+ episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from CBS for US$400,000 per episode or a total of US$120 million. But the record holder remains with cable channel FXX’s 2013 procurement of both exclusive cable and full digital rights to the long-running animated The Simpsons: a historic deal that encompasses all seasons (including future ones) at a cost of approximately $750 million or $1.25 million per week for the next decade.

Regardless of who owns the streaming rights to Seinfeld, it will not affect existing syndication agreements, including reruns that air on TBS.

As of 2013, Seinfeld has raked in US$3.1 billion through syndication revenues and is responsible for the majority of Jerry Seinfeld’s estimated US$800 million net worth.

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