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The big business of classic TV for streaming giants

September 15, 2019 / Thomas Urbain

How many hundreds of millions of dollars would you pay for reruns of "Friends," the American version of "The Office" or "The Big Bang Theory"? If you are a streaming powerhouse, the answer is: quite a few. As online video platforms jockey for position with new rivals for audience share, classic television series are commanding hefty sums. "It's a feeding frenzy right now," says Dominic Caristi, a professor of communications at Ball State University. In 2018, Netflix produced 140 original programs, but the most-watched series was "The Office," made by traditional network NBC and which ended its successful run six years ago. According to ratings tracker Nielsen, "The Office" is followed by "Friends" and far outpaces any of the streaming giant's own offerings. But in 2021, Netflix will have to surrender the rights to the offbeat musings of Dunder Mifflin manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his team, when th...